By Ashley M. Casey
Ten-year-old Marc Barnhart of Granby finally has some weight off his shoulders — 11 inches of bright red hair, that is.
Last weekend, Patti Mancino of Carla’s Hair Fashions in Fulton snipped two ponytails’ worth of hair from Marc’s head to send to Locks of Love, a Florida-based charity that provides wigs to children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.
Marc’s hairy journey began in late summer of 2012, when he and his grandmother, Carrie Fellows, saw a “Today Show” segment about men who had lost their hair to cancer.
“I saw it on the news that the men didn’t want to wear (wigs made of) girls’ hair, so they wanted boys to do it,” Marc said.
With his grandmother’s permission, Marc began to grow out his hair. For the last year-and-a-half, Marc has endured teasing, stares and comments from classmates and teachers alike at Kenney Middle School in Hannibal, which he and his four siblings attend.
Marc said his classmates have hurled insults at him such as “you girl,” but his family told him, “Words are words and remember what good you’re doing.”
“I just ignore it,” he said.
Marc’s siblings have borne some of the unkind words as well.
“Everyone in my grade kept saying, ‘Don’t you have two sisters?’ and I say, ‘No, my brother’s growing his hair for a great cause,’” said Matthew, 11. “It’s really sad that they have to pick on him and get satisfaction from talking to me.”
Matthew said one of their aunts died of cancer, another reason for Marc’s donation.
Cailynn, Marc’s twin sister, said that she and her other brothers tried to grow their hair to donate too, but gave up. Jeffrey, 13, said his effort to grow his hair “did not work out.”
Cailynn said other children at school have donated their hair as well.
“It’s not really nice because they’ve done it too, and no one picked on them,” Cailynn said.
The Barnhart children and their grandparents said their former bus driver and teachers have made comments to Marc as well.
Marc’s grandmother Carrie said one teacher said to Marc, “Hey kid, you need a haircut, you look like a girl.”
Marc said the school has held anti-bullying events, but he doesn’t think that makes a difference to students.
Kenney Principal Dee Froio said the school has hosted various anti-bullying events, including Jared Campbell’s “Blue Project” and a “bully-away spray” skit through Merry-Go-Round Playhouse’s “Echoes” program.
Froio added the school has not been notified about a student being bullied for growing their hair, but they would follow up any report of bullying.
Fortunately for Marc, not all the feedback has been negative.
“My art teacher this year did it two times, so she’s proud of me doing it,” Marc said.
Carrie, an adjunct professor at SUNY Oswego, brought Marc to one of her classes and shared his story. The students gave him a standing ovation.
“He made the decision to do it and he’s stuck with it,” said grandfather Jeff Fellows. “He has taken a lot of razzing the last year or so … When you explain to people why he’s doing it, they change their view.”
Hairstylist Patti Mancino has cut Marc’s hair since he was a baby. She said he is her only male client who has donated his hair to Locks of Love, but she has had many female clients donate to that organization and to a similar one, Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
“Sometimes I talk somebody into it if they want a new hairstyle. If you have enough, why not donate it?” Mancino said. “For a young man to do it is special because a lot of girls do it.”
After the big chop, Marc opted for a super short style. His brother Jeremy, 11, said he was glad that Marc did it, but “I’ll wake up to a stranger in the morning.”
“I got so used to Marc with long hair,” Matthew said.
As for the man with the mane, he said he plans to grow it out again for Locks of Love in the future, perhaps after the summer.
“Now I don’t have to wear my ponytail for tech,” he said.
To learn more about donating hair, visit
locksoflove.org or pantene.com and click on “Ready, set, grow: pony up!”