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'I felt really proud': Boy grows hair for 2 years to help girl with cancer

Inspired by young girl with cancer, a Maryland boy grows — and grows — his hair, hoping to make wigs for kids with the disease.
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

So much hair on his head; so much kindness his heart.

When Thomas Moore saw his mom watching a video of a girl with cancer back in 2014, he thought she was a boy because she had lost her hair, prompting his mom to explain cancer and chemotherapy to her young son.

“He got this really sorrowful look over his face,” his mom, Angilea Pulos, told TODAY. And, “quick as a flash,” he asked if he could grow his hair and give it to the girl he had never met, saying he wanted her to be happy.

Months after he began skipping haircuts, Thomas Moore already has a lot of hair in 2015.Courtesy of Angilea Pulos

“I figured it would be the right thing to do, to donate my hair to her,” said Thomas, now 10. “I felt like sad and I also felt heroic.”

Thomas let his hair grow and grow for two years before he got a major haircut — which lasted more than 4 hours — earlier this month, and he smiled as the scissors snipped. “After we were done,” the fifth grader said, “I felt really proud of myself.”

Before and after: Thomas Moore got his haircut on Sept. 10.Courtesy of Angilea Pulos

Sadly, the girl in the video, Kyssi Andrews, died last year at age 6. Although Thomas did not learn about her death until after his cut, the family hopes his hair can be made into wigs to help several kids with cancer. The stylist who cut Thomas’ hair specializes in processing African-American hair and believes there is enough hair for three wigs, Pulos said.

Pulos, of Bowie, Maryland, is proud of her son’s selflessness.

“It’s a great feeling to be the mom of someone who actually could do something so special,” Pulos said. “He originally wanted to help a little girl. For him to have enough to help three different people is just a blessing.”

Thomas’s kindness caught widespread notice after his aunt, Amber Ray, posted before-and-after shots of him on Twitter.

As the story spread, Pulos received messages from all over the world from people affected by childhood cancer. “It’s touching people everywhere,” she said.

So much hair! Thomas Moore in 2015.Courtesy of Angilea Pulos

Thomas wore his long locks loose for about six months, and it was sometimes a distraction at school with kids putting their hands _ and even a pencil _ into his huge Afro. Afterward, Pulos often kept his hair in cornrows.

Thomas Moore also wore his long hair in braids.Courtesy of Angilea Pulos

“Overall, his experience was great,” she said, adding that adults commented that his giant Afro reminded them of the ‘70s. “No one teased him.”

Thomas has a sensitive scalp and struggled with discomfort when his hair was combed or braided. He thought about quitting a few times, his mom says. But he stuck with it until he felt the time had come to cut it at the start of the new school year in September, which coincided with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

All dressed for Easter 2014. Thomas Moore with his sister, Alanah, now 8; and his brother, Timothy, who is now 12.Courtesy of Angilea Pulos

Thomas says the pain was worth it. Knowing that his hair will help other kids makes him feel good.

Pulos was surprised by the effort her caring son was willing to endure to help a stranger. “That’s a different level of his caring and commitment,” she said.

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“Who would ever think that such a small, young child would come up with something like that, to help someone they don’t even know,” Pulos said. “It makes me feel like I’m doing something right.”

So right in fact that Thomas plans to grow his hair again next year when he is in sixth grade. contributor Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter: @lisaflam