Ray Decker, 7, donates his hair to charity after growing it out for over two years.
A Gilbert 7-year-old walked into a salon with hair flowing down to the middle of his back. Three stormtroopers later, he walked out with a close-cropped hairdo and a potentially life-changing gift for another child.
Ray Decker had been growing his hair since kindergarten. On Saturday, the second-grader had more than 12 inches lopped off for Wigs for Kids, which helps children with cancer.
“I’ve had it for so long, it’s hard to let it go,” Ray said, adding that it was worth it to help someone else — boy or girl.
Ray’s mother, Alisa, said she came across an article two years ago about a 7-year-old boy who had grown his hair out to donate to Wigs for Kids. She said Ray asked if he could do the same.
“He gets the occasional ribbing from friends,” Alisa said. “But he always knew what the end goal was. He took this all like a champ.”
She said Ray had been inspired to donate to kids with cancer because his second-grade teacher and great-grandmother have cancer.
“It’s a personal issue for Ray,” Alisa said. “It gave him a little bit more meaning, as he grew his hair out, as to why he was doing the donation.”
As Ray waited to get his haircut at Pure Salon and Spa in Chandler, he got a surprise.
A trio dressed as “Star Wars” stormtroopers walked up to cheer him on. Each high-fived him and explained how proud they were of him for donating his hair. As each section of hair was cut off, the stormtroopers clapped.
Ray said he didn’t think his friends would believe this happened to him. His parents joked that there were photos to prove it.
Ray’s father, Jamey, had asked a family friend who works with the organization 501st, a group of “Star Wars” costume enthusiasts who do volunteer work, for help with the surprise.
“I’m really happy,” Jamey said. “I’m happy its over. … He finally did it. It’s just cool to see him, because he’s grown so much.”
Jamey said he hopes it will inspire other boys, maybe even someone from Ray’s Cub Scouts troop, to make a similar donation.
“He’s going to be getting a special patch and some general recognition at the next pack meeting,” Jamey said.
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