So long, locks: ER youth donates hair

Two years worth of hair grows for a good cause


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Eagle River’s Scotty Sandback looks in the mirror as hairdresser Monika Ohlsson prepares his hair to be cut during an appointment on Aug. 31 at Darjons Salon in Eagle River. Sandback grew his hair out for two years to donate to the “Wigs for Kids” organization, which weaves wigs to donate to children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments or medical conditions.

STAR PHOTOS BY MATT TUNSETH

Having to go dipnetting in a ponytail might have been the worst part of Scotty Sandback’s hair-raising adventure.

“I did not like that,” said Sandbeck, who said he normally wore his long, black hair parted to one side or — when it was windy — covered with a hat.

But during a dipnetting trip to the Kenai Peninsula, he had no choice but to pull the hair back in order to make sure it stayed out of his way as he scooped salmon.

Sandback’s tale started two years ago on a plane trip to visit his grandmother. A boy sitting next to him had long hair, and Scotty — who wore his in a sharp crew cut — asked why. When the boy told him he was growing the hair out for cancer patients, Sandbeck was intrigued.

“It was just mainly something that I could look forward to, a goal,” Sandbeck said.

For the past two years, Sandbeck has been growing his hair out to donate to “Wigs for Kids,” a nonprofit group that weaves wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments or other medical issues. On Aug. 31 he arrived at Darjon’s Salon in Eagle River with his mom, Mary Jo Sandbeck, for a long-awaited date with a set of clippers.

“I’ve waited a long time for this,” Scotty said.

He said the long hair got in his eyes, took time to wash and was just an all-round nuisance.

“There have been times when I just wanted to come home with scissors in my right hand and the rest of my hair in my left,” he said.

Scotty’s a pretty normal kid. He arrived at his appointment wearing jeans and a t-shirt and said he likes classic rock, enjoys riding his bike, hunting and playing soccer. But as his hair grew longer and longer, he said people started asking uncomfortable questions about his lengthy locks. So Mary Jo came up with an idea.

“I got it so often that my mom made up cards,” Scotty said.

At Darjon’s Scotty took one from his pocket and read aloud:

“Thank you for your observation about my hair. You may be unaware that I am growing my hair out to donate for cancer patients. A hair donation must be at least 12 inches to be accepted. It has taken me two years to grow it this far. I am excited that I am almost at the point that I can help someone. If you are interested in a donation, I’d be happy to talk to you about it. Scotty.”

Other than the occasional rude comment, Scotty said people weren’t too tough on him about his hair. Although he’s homeschooled, he takes math classes at Mirror Lake Middle School, where he said he has the longest hair of any boy in school.

“They don’t really bug me about it,” he said.

But as he sat down in a barber’s chair and hairdresser Monika Ohlsson prepared to start shaving, Scotty said it was definitely time for a trim.

“Oh year,” he said.

Within a matter of five minutes, Scotty’s 12-inch hair was gone, leaving Scotty clutching his now-bald head in satisfaction.

“I missed you!” he said. “I can see my skull.”

Mary Jo said she was happy to have her little boy back.

“This is what I’m used to,” she said as she, too prepared to have 12 inches of long black hair trimmed off to donate with Scotty’s.

Scotty said he’s not likely to grow his hair out again, but said he was happy to have gone through the experience.

“I just wanted to help,” he said.

 

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com

 

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