Boy gives hair for kids with cancer

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 By Donna Thornton News Editor

Most girls would have envied Dawson Gladden’s hair – long wavy blond locks that his mother captured in photos, hanging down his back from underneath a cowboy hat.

And thanks to the John Jones Elementary School fourth-grader’s generosity, someone else may have that hair soon. He got a haircut at L.A. Brooke Salon in downtown Gadsden Aug. 30, and his hair will be donated to Wigs for Kids, a non-profit organization that makes wigs for children who’ve lost their hair during cancer treatment.

The decision was Dawson’s, according to his mom, Cindy Gladden. “His hair was long when he was little,” she said, but had been cut some years ago. About three summers ago, she said, he decided to let it grow again.

“He came up with the idea on his own to donate his hair,” Cindy said. Another boy Dawson knows from wrestling had donated hair, she said, and Dawson knew of children battling cancer.

“I went to school with someone who has cancer,” Dawson said, and he knew that fellow student had lost her hair as a result of treatment. He said it makes him feel good to know that someone will be helped by his donation. “It takes two or three (donations) to make one wig,” Dawson said.

He said it feels funny not having the long hair now, but on the positive side, it is a little cooler.

“Some people saw me and they just went ‘gasp,’” Dawson said when he debuted his new do at school. “It’s up over my ears.”

Dawson waited until last week to get the haircut, Cindy said, so everyone at school could see how long his hair had grown.

When the family started looking for an organization to donate the hair to, a nurse at his pediatrician’s office suggested Wigs for Kids. In addition to donating his hair, Cindy said, Dawson also collected money from family and friends to donate along with his hair.

The shorter hair may take some getting used to, but it will be easier when it comes to sports. When Dawson wrestled or played baseball, his mom said, he had to tuck his hair into a skullcap or into his helmet. “It got hot with all that hair,” she said.

“His dad (Ricky Gladden) was a nervous wreck about it,” Cindy said. “He kept saying, ‘I love his hair.’”

With the long hair, Cindy said, people often mistook Dawson for a girl, but he never seemed to mind.

Recently, when they were in a local grocery, she said, the woman at the checkout stand thought he was a girl. When they told her he was a boy, Cindy said, they shared Dawson’s plan to donate his hair.

“I heard her all over the store, pointing him out to people and telling them what he was going to do,” Cindy said.

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