Why Bullying Couldn't Stop This Boy From Growing Out His Hair

June 4th 2015

Laura Donovan

Two and a half years ago, 8-year-old Christian McPhilamy's life changed when he saw a commercial for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. He was so moved by the ad that he decided to grow out enough hair to make four, 10-inch ponytails and ultimately donate the locks to charity Children With Hair Loss, which gives free wigs to children with hair loss. He finally achieved his goal, and he's pretty excited to help out a fellow kid.

McPhilamy may be beaming now, but the past two years haven't always been given him something to smile about. According to his mother Deeanna Thomas, he was subjected to ample unfair treatment during the two-year quest to grow out his hair. Not only was he mocked by many peers, but questioned and judged on his decision by grown-ups.

"He has endured an awful lot of criticism, and yes even bullying, throughout this time," Thomas wrote on Facebook. "From his peers calling him a girl to even coaches and family friends telling him he should cut it or offering him money to. Even still, he has never once, strayed from his goal and always took the time to educate others on why he made the choice to grow his hair. I am one proud mommy as always."

Speaking to TODAY, Christian and his mom reiterated that the process was a challenge given the things people said about him, as well as the fact that people sometimes mistook him for a female. The young boy never gave in to the negativity though, and his mom couldn't be happier. 

"Even out and about or at a park, he would be playing with a bunch of boys and they'd be like, 'You look like a girl,'" she said. "And he would just explain to them. He held his head high and he never once said that he wanted to cut it off ever."

Thomas still felt nervous when it came time to cut her fellow's hair last week.

"My hands were shaking. My heart felt like it was going to explode," Thomas said. "It was just incredible."