The little boy's grandfather 'Papa Rick' was diagnosed with Stage 4 Mantle cell lymphoma.
An 11-year-old boy was crushed when he found out his beloved grandfather "Papa Rick" was diagnosed with cancer. In 2017, Papa Rick was diagnosed with Stage 4 mantle cell lymphoma and both he and his grandson Jackson Johnston was gutted by the news. The two were the best of friends and would bond over boating adventures, golf outings, and sports events. Feeling hopeless over the heartbreaking diagnosis young Johnston decided to show support for his best friend. Knowing that Papa Rick would lose his hair as a result of treatment, Johnston decided to shave his head.
"He knew that Papa Rick was kind of down in the dumps about losing his hair. He is always styling his hair and has it looking really nice so he knew that Papa was really bothered by that,” said Amber, Jackson’s mother, according to NBC News. He made the decision to shave his head so that his grandfather would feel less alone. "He told his Papa, ‘you won’t be alone. You won’t be the only one losing your hair. You won’t be the only bald one in the family,’” Amber said. When Papa Rick saw young Johnston one morning without his beautiful blonde hair he broke into tears at his grandson’s actions.
The next day at school, Johnston received a different reaction. “Right off the bat I got two mean comments at the table — ‘baldy’ and ‘you look like you have cancer.’ I got really mad at first, but then I got really sad throughout the day,” Jackson said. When his principal heard about the story he decided to step in. Hadley decided to go above and beyond to support the young boy's sweet gesture. He asked Amber to send Johnston to school the next day with his hair clippers. Hadley gathered the entire school the following day and in front of 175 students at Pekin Middle School, he asked the 11-year-old to shave his head in honor of Papa Rick.
Moral support for those dealing with difficult times goes a long way.— YourTango (@YourTango) January 3, 2023
One student from Pekin Middle School and his principal know this all too well. https://t.co/UDq6laN4E3
The principal wanted to send a significant message to his students. “I think we look at social media and we see this perfect person behind it. That person could be broken and we project one image and some of us live another. So exactly right before we pass that comment, make that judgment, let's take a serious at what the other person is and try on their shoes for a little bit,” said Hadley. Sharing a beautiful of advice, he added, “If you can educate the heart, you can educate the mind."