It seemed as though the moment Wyatt Wilderman decided to grow out his short blond hair, people began to tell him – in subtle and not so subtle ways – that he needed a haircut.
“Wyatt never told anybody what he was doing, so they just assumed he wanted it long,” his mother, Debby, explained. “A lot of people would give us phone numbers and coupons to go have haircuts and stuff.”
“Or like the time at the Bradley Center, when they were dropping the things (coupons),” Wyatt interjected with a smile. “I caught one and it was a free haircut.”
Although Justin Bieber and Zac Efron have made the long, shaggy hair look popular for teens and young adults alike, the reason behind Wyatt’s decision to grow his hair out didn’t have anything to do with vanity or girl chasing. It had to do with his compassion for people.
“Our neighbor got cancer and I asked my mom why she had lost all of her hair,” Wyatt said, explaining how he noticed his neighbor, Sarah Schultz, outside one day without a hat or headscarf. “So, I decided to grow my hair out to donate it to ‘Locks of Love.’”
“Locks of Love” is a public, non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 who suffer fromlong-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. The organization’s mission “is to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children,” according to its website.
The Wilderman family wasn’t very close to their then 29-year-old neighbor at the time Wyatt decided to donate his hair, which might have made his decision to donate all the more puzzling.
“We didn’t actually find out until probably a year after I was diagnosed,” said Sarah about her reaction to Wyatt’s shaggy hair. “He had come on over and just started telling us his long hair wasn’t just for fashion, that he had decided to do that actually when I had lost my hair, and I really didn’t know anything about it.”
While Wyatt knew he wouldn’t directly be able to give Sarah his hair for a wig once he grew it out to the required 10 inches, he understood that he could still make an impact on people suffering from cancer,
Parish: St. John Neumann, Waukesha
Occupation: 6th grade student at Central Middle School, Waukesha
Books recently read: The Alex Rider book series by Anthony Horowitz
Favorite Movie: “Miracle” (The true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team)
Favorite sport: Hockey
which he was able to ponder during the two and a half years it took to reach the required length. By the time he had scheduled to cut his hair, he couldn’t really remember what it had been like to have short hair.
“It was a little awkward to feel it getting all cut off, like when you would feel it, because I didn’t have short hair for a long time, and mom and my neighbor (Sarah) were there and they were watching and taking pictures,” Wyatt said, laughing at the memory.
When asked why they think Wyatt chose to highlight the works of “Locks of Love” by growing out his hair and donating it, Debby and Sarah understand that while some kids look on the outside, Wyatt, like God, looks to the heart.
“He saw Sarah walking out without any hair, and I just think that he’s the type of kid that, before he does something, he thinks about how it’s going to make other people feel,” Debby explained.
“I was humbled by such a generous spirit in such a young kid, and he did it without anyone knowing,” Sarah added.
“It was really humbling just to see. What really struck us was, you talk about doing something for those in need, and he did it without anyone knowing. It’s really a moving testament to how kids are … they just go ahead and do it.”