MONTREAL — Dakota McNeil has been letting his hair grow for the past year and a half. He made the decision after learning that a fellow student at the St. Lawrence Academy, Kiki Guite, had been diagnosed with leukemia.
Guite and McNeil weren’t that close, but her illness moved McNeil. Inspired by a teacher at his school, McNeil decided to let his hair grow and donate it to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that makes wigs for children who have lost their hair due to medical conditions. He also raised money for Guite’s family.
“I felt happy that he’s giving his hair to me and my friends at the Montreal Children’s,” said Guite.
On Thursday, McNeil’s entire school community gathered inside the school gymnasium to watch him get his long locks chopped off.
“I’m excited, and a little bit nervous at the same time, ’cause I want it gone,” said McNeil. “It’s annoying.”
As the room grew louder and louder, Guite did the honours, cutting off McNeil’s first strand of hair. McNeil’s mother says this was all her son’s doing; that’s just the kind of person he is.
“He brings back bottles to the supermarket and gives them to a homeless man there, so for him to say he wanted to do this, it wasn’t shocking,” she said.
Still, McNeil says letting his hair grow wasn’t without its difficulties.
“It takes long to comb, to wash, it’s annoying,” he said.
He was also teased a little; other boys called him a girl.
“He knew he was doing it for a reason, so he kind of let it just slide,” explained his mother.
So McNeil pushed through, all for Guite.
“It was pretty overwhelming when I found out a 10-year-old was gonna do this for Kiki. I was touched, he has such a big heart and it takes a special person to do that,” said Marc Guite, Kiki’s father.
The initial plan had been for McNeil to cut his hair in October, but it wasn’t until December that his hair was long enough to be chopped off. On Thursday, he got to give Guite a beautiful gift, just in time for the holidays.