He was called “Curly Q” in eighth grade, because of his sandy blonde hair.
Then in the ninth grade, into his second year without a haircut, the hair on Calvin Dodd’s 15-year-old head grew so long, other kids asked if he was a skateboarder. He needed a headband to play soccer, and one time, when he forgot the band was around his neck, he drew a penalty.
Still, Calvin grew his hair down to the shoulders and beyond because he knew that some kid, somewhere, would need it.
“I wanted to give my hair to Locks of Love,” Calvin said. “I don’t know who will get it. But there is someone out there who needs somebody like me to grow their hair and cut it so they can have some hair when they are sick.”
Locks of Love is a nonprofit that gives wigs and hairpieces to children who lost hair during treatment for illnesses such as cancer. Hairpieces cost big money, and many kids’ families can’t afford them.
Women and girls donate hair all the time to Locks of Love around America, but it’s rare for a boy to grow his hair out just to cut it off and give it away.
But Calvin’s cousin, just 6, lost his hair during cancer treatment.
“He lost his hair a bunch of times, and it’s not his fault he is sick,” Calvin said. “Any child that has cancer, or a disability, it is not their fault. You have to help them if you can.”
Calvin’s mother, Ann Dalton, survived eye cancer when she was a child. She has spent years working with the York County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs.
“He said he wanted to make a difference for a child and we supported him,” Dalton said. “We got used to his long hair.”
On Wednesday, a fellow South Pointe High School student told Calvin he needed to get a haircut. Calvin hadn’t told the other kids at school why his hair was so long – almost 15 inches of curls and twists and kinks. With a trick up his sleeve, he told the kid, “Just because you said so, I will get my hair cut tonight.”
So that afternoon, Calvin made his way to the Kuttin’ Up salon on Main Street in Rock Hill. He was barely there 10 seconds before the place filled with women, ooh-ing and aah-ing over his long locks.
Calvin is an Eagle Scout candidate who last fall gave a public speech about childhood cancer awareness. He’s active in his church, a trumpet player in the school concert band, and a straight-A honors student.
But all the ladies in the salon could do was stare at this handsome kid with the beautiful hair.
Then stylist Amanda Questelle walked in, a glint in her eye and scissors in her hand.
“I’m a little nervous,” Calvin admitted.
Questelle first sectioned his hair and bunched it together with rubber bands. Calvin sat in the chair like he was on the wrong end of a funeral procession. He tried to smile. It was weak.
No turning back, though.
“That’s a lotta hair,” somebody called out, because it was.
Finally Questelle started cutting. Calvin watched in the mirror as those beautiful locks that had made many a South Pointe freshman girl swoon were sliced off.
In a couple of minutes, his hair was short.
Calvin looked at himself in the mirror, knowing he had done a great thing for some kid somewhere who has dealt with chemotherapy, pain and maybe low-self-esteem without hair.
“It was worth it for sure,” Calvin said.
What hair was left was washed and styled.
When Calvin gets ready for school Thursday morning, he will pull on an airbrushed T-shirt that reads, simply, “It’s me.”