Nine-year-old Karsen just wanted to do something selfless for a good cause.
The Surrey Grade 4 student began growing his hair long last year, aiming to donate his locks to the annual Balding for Dollars charity at BC Children’s Hospital in May.
But as his hair began to grow past his ears and towards his shoulders, Karsen says he started getting picked on by other kids at school and at the skate park where they would hang out at.
Now that his mane has grown down to his chest, he and his mom say the bullying has only gotten worse.
“They keep on calling me a girl,” Karsen said. “I would tell them I’m a boy and I would tell them to stop.
“They wouldn’t stop, so I just wouldn’t even listen to them. I’d just keep playing the game I was playing.”
While Karsen says the bullying didn’t bother him too much, his mom Tara Blackwell says she and Karsen’s father noticed their son was not being his usual self at school.
“It’s hard because he’s doing something so noble, and he’s getting bugged about it,” Blackwell said.
Karsen has now decided to cut his hair next week instead of waiting for next year’s event — though he says he made the decision after seeing how upset his parents got about the bullying.
Blackwell admits she was more impacted by how other kids have been treating her son, while proudly highlighting Karsen’s resilience.
“He would just keep pushing through it because he’s invincible,” she said.
The early cut has come with a silver lining, however. After Blackwell shared Karsen’s story on social media, the family has received an outpouring of support, including a wave of donations to support Karsen’s cause.
“The outpouring of support and love and kindness, it’s just so encouraging,” Blackwell said, adding she’s seen a “huge boost” to Karsen’s confidence as she reads comments to her posts.
“Families have been reaching out to say, ‘Hey, my family’s gone through this, I’ve lost my son or lost my daughter … and they would have loved your son.’ It makes me emotional.”
The Balding for Dollars charity itself — which raises money and accepts hair donations to benefit children diagnosed with cancer — has also featured Karsen’s story on its website.
Blackwell says she’s reached out Karsen’s school and expects to sit down with the principal and senior staff next week to try to address the bullying.
Karsen, meanwhile, remains unfazed about the ordeal and isn’t letting the taunting and teasing get in the way of helping others in need.
“I’m going to do this and then wait a year, then I’m going to start it again,” he said.