Benton City 8-year-old boy gives up long locks for love

What started as an effort to avoid a haircut nearly two years ago ended this month with a Benton City third-grader’s 101⁄2-inch donation to Locks of Love.

“I wanted to grow out my hair long because I didn’t like to keep cutting it,” said Makai Hirschman, 8.

In an effort to convince the Kiona-Benton City gradeschooler to trim his hair, his mother, Michelle, told him the only good reason for avoiding the scissors would be for charity.

She didn’t think he’d go through with it.

But the next time she reminded him he needed a haircut, Makai said he was growing his hair out for Locks of Love. The nonprofit gives hairpieces to disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

“At first I was kind of like, ‘OK, whatever,’ ” Michelle Hirschman said. “I wasn’t sure he’d make it through.”

As Makai’s hair grew, other kids teased him and strangers mistook him for a girl.

“I think it’s just human nature that if somebody doesn’t look a certain way, you get teased,” said Michelle Hirschman. “Amazingly enough, (through) all of the teasing and mistaken identity, he never blinked an eye. He just didn’t care.”

Makai said the cause was more important to him than having people refer to him as a “she.”

“I just didn’t listen and I just kept going,” he said. “I know I’m doing something good to help other people and I just like doing it.”

And after his head was shaved, he started the process all over again.

“It’s just been so cool to watch him over this time,” said his mom. “Knowing he had a cause in mind and not caring what anybody else said. We’re absolutely very proud of him.”

Though Makai’s happy his hair has gone to a good cause, he misses it now that it’s bitter cold. “He’s been wearing a hat,” she said.

* Laura Kate Zaichkin: 582-1521; lzaichkin@tricityherald.com