Phoebe Kannisto and her six sons grew their hair out for years for a wonderful cause.
After their hair was long enough, Kannisto and her boys all cut and donated their hair to Children with Hair Loss, a nonprofit organization that helps children with medically related hair loss.
"Three years ago, my friend lost her son to cancer," Kannisto said. "He was a twin and very close in age to my twins. On the first anniversary of his passing, my three oldest boys donated their hair in his memory. Since their donation two years ago, our lives have continued to be touched by cancer. It's everywhere. My boys want to help, and donating their hair is how they do it."
Her oldest son, Andre, grew his hair out for a year. Her twins grew theirs for almost two years, and her triplets have been growing their hair out for all five years of their lives.
They're already planning their next donation, too, because their two-year-old sister wants to participate. Her hair wasn't long enough to donate, but she was able to sit in the salon and watch as her brothers got their hair cut.
"She watched in awe," Kannisto said. "[Her brothers] are great role models."
"We promised her that we'd all go again so she could do it with us," she said.
After cutting, the donations totaled 17 feet of hair.
Kannisto said although her younger children "have a simpler grasp on the concept, they understand that they're helping sick kids who don't have hair and can't grow hair."
Kannisto said it's important to her kids to donate their hair to other children who are fighting cancer, in particular, because her husband is a cancer research scientist.
Kannisto said that after hours in Hizair Hair Salon, the stylists refused to accept payment for the cuts.
"They insisted on donating their time since we were donating our hair," she said.
Kannisto said her sons have been frequently teased by youth and adults alike for choosing to grow out their hair for donation.
"One son has been teased more than the others," she said. "He and I have had many tear-filled conversations over the last several months. He explains the process of hair donation to his peers, and some of them just don't get it."
Luckily, this experience has taught her sons to develop "thick skin" and they're able to ignore the mockery, knowing that what they're doing is helping others.
"I love that they want to help other children," she said. "They're already making predictions on how long it will take them to grow their hair out to donate again."