Madelyn Eastman couldn’t give Caleb Rowe a present for his 16th birthday. Instead, she did the only thing she could think of to honor the memory of a friend she had known since pre-school.
She donated her hair in honor of the Havelock boy who died of cancer in 2009.
Eastman had 12 inches of her long hair cut and donated to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients and other children who lose their hair and can’t afford to pay for them.
The Havelock High sophomore made the donation on Jan. 31, which would have been Rowe’s 16th birthday.
"We were in pre-school together," Eastman said of Rowe.
Eastman, who said she used to have very short hair in the sixth grade, said she had not gotten it cut since then. She said she had been thinking about a hair cut and donation to Locks of Love for about two years, and the timing just seemed right.
"It was getting long and he’s birthday was coming up," she said of her decision to get her hair cut. "I’m very happy about it."
Meghan Woodard, stylist at Scizzor Talk in Havelock, first measured 10 inches of Eastman’s hair to cut off. When Eastman realized how much hair she would still have left, she instructed Woodard to take another two inches more.
Woodard measured again and then snipped, placing bundles of the hair on the counter in front of Eastman.
"I feel like my head is a lot lighter," Eastman said.
Eastman’s parents and grandmother were on hand to watch, as was Nicki Rowe, Caleb’s mother, and Malorie Rowe, Caleb’s sister.
"You’re going to make someone very happy," Nicki Rowe told Eastman. "Caleb always said he didn’t like being bald. Some guys like it, but Caleb never did."
Caleb Rowe lost his hair during his cancer treatments. He was a student at Tucker Creek Middle School when he died on Sept. 9, 2009.
He was a fan of the North Carolina Tar Heels, and many of his friends wore Carolina Blue colors during the day. Eastman sported a UNC T-shirt for her haircut.
"It makes tears come to my eyes," Nicki Rowe said of Eastman’s donation. "It makes me think that people have not forgotten him."