In early 2012, Brendan Fowler was watching the NFL with his Duke lacrosse teammates and made a joke about how he was going to grow his hair out like Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. Seeing as the faceoff specialist never had much more than a buzz cut his entire life, no one on the team believed he would follow through with it. But two and a half years later, Fowler found himself in a salon chair cutting off and donating 10 inches of his hair to the Locks of Love organization.
“I was growing my hair junior year and I had heard of people donating it before,” said Fowler. “A kid on our team at Duke,
Brian Dailey, his mom has her own hair salon so she kind of mentioned it to me first and told me it had to grow a little longer. But she said whenever I was ready to cut it I could come to her shop and she would do it for me. So she kind of got me involved with it and I thought it would be a good idea.”
So Fowler last week headed to Mimi’s Berwyn Hair Designs in Pennsylvania to complete his donation. The process was relatively simple, requiring just some basic paperwork to be mailed to the Locks of Love headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla., along with the ponytail of hair. In order to donate, hair must be clean and dry and the ponytail must be a full 10 inches from tip to tip. It gets wrapped in a plastic bag, placed in an envelope and shipped out.
Fowler said his hair was around 11 or 12 inches, which means it will all get used in a hairpiece. However, because of privacy restrictions, Fowler won’t get a chance to see what his prosthetic looks like when finished, nor will he learn what child his hair went to. But that doesn’t matter to Fowler. “I’ve known some younger people who have gone through different stages of cancer, a couple of family friends who have gone through chemo and been bald for a little bit,” he said. “I always thought it would have been cool if I had a head of hair to donate to them, so that definitely swayed my decision to do it.”
Locks of Love is a public, non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the U.S. and Canada that are under age 21 and suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. The hair prosthetics Locks of Love provides are custom-made for each child’s head and retail between $3,500 to $6,000. Each hairpiece is made from real human hair and arrives long so the recipient may style it to fit their face.
“I felt naked for the first two or three days,” Fowler said of his shorter do. “I’m so used to seeing the long hair but it feels really great to be cut.” Asked if he would consider donating again, Fowler admitted it was a long process but wouldn’t rule out the idea entirely. “Maybe,” he said. “It took a while to be able to donate but it’s a possibility.”