From Hippy to Hero

Story by Melissa Edwards

 Kevin McGregor is an individual. A complete stranger would be able to tell just by his outward appearance. Kevin, a senior at Russellville High School, has earned names such as “Long-Haired Hippy Boy” simply for his free-willed rebellious look. But what few people know is that although Kevin may fit the stereotype of a defiant 18-year-old, he spent the majority of the past three years preparing for a trip to Hair Tech Studios on February 2, 2007.

At the local hair salon, Kevin donated an 11-inch ponytail to Locks of Love, an organization dedicated to creating wigs for young hair-loss patients.

“My hair was getting a little shaggy in 9th grade when I heard about Locks of Love. My mother had just finished treatment for breast cancer, so I figured it was a great way to give back,” said Kevin.

Although the experience started as just something to do, it progressed into a commitment that left Kevin a changed person. “I started out pretty thick-skinned, but I’ve developed a better sense of humor about things. When your teacher calls you ‘Long- Haired Hippy Boy,’ you just have to learn to adapt.” Especially in Kevin’s high school environment, it is hard to avoid conforming to the groups of people who don’t accept unexpected behaviors.

Due to Kevin’s strong personality and boisterous character, the joking from friends was merely a good laugh every now and then. “I got a lot of snickering comments about it, but most people swallowed their words when I told them what I was growing it out for,” stated Kevin, slightly amused.

In order to donate a ponytail to Locks of Love, the hair donor has to meet several requirements. The ponytail must be at least ten inches, of any hair color or texture, treated or untreated but not chemically damaged. If the donor’s hair is curly, the ponytail may be straightened to ten inches in order to meet requirements. Professional cutting is not necessary, so long as all of the above requirements are met. A side note, however, is that hair not suitable for children (i.e. gray or short hair) cannot be accepted.

Through his years of growing out his hair, Kevin learned that long hair can be quite difficult to deal with. Kevin, a goalie for the Russellville High School Varsity Soccer Team, had to find a new way to keep his style from getting in his way. “Keeping my long hair out of my eyes for soccer was a chore,” Kevin said. “I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss it but I know it’s for a great cause and I’m getting used to my shorter haircut now.” (We bet that Kevin’s soccer coach is glad to not see that Rapunzel look on his goalie as well.)

When asked about the greatest thing about Locks of Love, Kevin tells that “Locks of Love is a great opportunity to give a part of yourself to someone who really needs it. The rewarding process is definitely something I would do again.” In fact, Kevin plans to grow out his hair throughout college and donate another ponytail before he graduates.

So the next time that you meet a “long-haired hippy boy” on the street, why not take a minute to consider the true essence of his appearance? Kevin McGregor is only a senior in high school but already understands the importance of giving help to those we need it. He is, truly, an one-of-a-kind individual in all that he does.

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