"My hair was always the thing people noticed me for," the teen said. "I'll lose part of my personality, but I'll also gain something."
A 17-year-old spent his Memorial Day weekend sacrificing something that was a "huge part of his personality" for a good cause. Kieran Moïse, an Alabama teen who is heading to the Air Force Academy in Colorado this fall, knew he'd need to have all of his hair shaved off before starting school. However, instead of letting his big and luscious Afro go to waste, Moïse decided that he'd turn his first haircut in over six years into a charitable event for children with cancer. The teen invited his local community in Huntsville, Alabama, to watch him get his 19-inch curls shorn off and raised a total of $38,735 in the process.
"My son has always had a huge heart," Kelly Moïse, the teen's mom, told The Washington Post. "He was determined that if he was going to have to get a haircut anyway, then he should pay it forward in a way that would help as many people as possible." Although Moïse set a goal to raise $1,000 per inch for his Afro — $19,000 in total — and give the proceeds to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, he ended up raising far more than that. He also donated his curls to Children With Hair Loss, a Michigan nonprofit that provides free human hair wigs to children and young adults who've lost their hair due to medical reasons.
Speaking to Good Morning America, Moïse revealed that his decision to raise money for St. Jude's is personal; he lost a close friend to cancer when he was in eighth grade. "My friend Josh -- things got bad and he passed away in December of our eighth-grade year," the teen explained, adding that St. Jude's helped Josh's family out while his friend battled cancer. "I've always wanted to help support cancer fundraising," Moïse said.
The teen added that he was also inspired by a cancer fundraising event he'd attended in 2019. Hosted in conjunction with the St. Baldrick's Foundation, at the event he'd seen a number of people were going up and shaving their heads completely bald. "It was this huge thing and I knew I wanted to be a part of that," Moïse said. "He wants people to know that if he can donate his hair, then anyone can," said Kelly. "He's hoping that everyone will be encouraged to go out there and commit their own small act of kindness."
"He was born with a beautiful headful of hair, and for his entire life, that's the first thing everyone noticed about him," the proud mother added. "Everywhere he went, he was the guy with the big hair. There was no way not to notice it. Every Sunday night, I'd help him condition it one section at a time while he sat through two movies. That hair was a huge part of his personality."
"He knew from a very young age that he wanted to be an engineer and an astronaut," said the teen's father, Patrick Moïse. "Being accepted at the Academy was a dream come true, but also part of his path to doing great things." He admitted that although he often chided Moïse to get a haircut, he was supportive when his son told him that he was thinking of donating his curls to help children who had lost their hair to cancer treatments. "He has a heart filled with compassion and a desire to give back," he said. About 100 people showed up at "Kieran's Curls for Cancer fundraiser" on May 29 while several more donated to the fundraising site the teen set up.
"My hair was always the thing people noticed me for," Moïse told local reporters right before his mom, friends, and a few favorite teachers sectioned his hair and took turns cutting it off. "I'll lose part of my personality, but I'll also gain something."