By Kelsey Durham
At the age of 6, Bayside student Luke Arnero knew he wanted to do something to help others.
Last week, classmates of the now 9-year-old boy gathered in his third-grade classroom inside PS 159, at 205-01 33rd Ave., to watch Luke celebrate the completion of his goal by cutting off more than 9 inches of the hair he had spent three years growing out in order to donate to cancer patients.
In first-grade, Luke made the decision to start growing his light brown hair in hopes of donating it after he saw his two brothers give away their long locks when they were younger. Luke’s mother, Sue Arnero, said her oldest son once sported long hair simply because he liked the look, but when the time came to get rid of it, he decided to donate it to a good cause.
A few years later, another brother followed, leading a young Luke to choose to follow in their footsteps.
“People sometimes get laughed at when they don’t have hair,” he said. “I just wanted to help and give hair to people who don’t have it.”
At the beginning of the school year, Luke’s teacher, Michelle Gold, learned about his plans from a writing assignment in which he discussed why he was growing his hair out and what he planned to do with it once it was chopped off.
She said she was blown away by Luke’s ability to understand the depth of the generous action at such a young age and immediately thought it would be a nice thing to celebrate in school.
“We spend so much time on things like testing, but things like this are teaching kids what’s really important,” Gold said. “These are real life lessons. I just thought it was so touching.”
On April 10, Luke’s classmates and his teacher looked on as his mother cut about 9 inches of hair off her son’s head, an action she also performed in the past when her other boys decided to donate their locks. The hair was sent to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program, which partners with the American Cancer Society and uses donations to create wigs for people who have lost their hair as a result of undergoing cancer treatments.
“I’m very proud of him,” Sue said. “He’s young, but he knows what it’s for. He understands.”
Luke said that after his hair was gone, he was happy his patience finally paid off and is glad to know his long strands will go toward helping someone in need.
Though he is proud of his accomplishment, he said he will not miss having long hair, especially in warm weather.
“It feels weird,” he said, “but I feel better.”
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.