Perla Galvan, a fourth-grade student at Adams Elementary, donated her hair to Locks of Love after she decided she wanted to do something to help people with cancer.
Perla Galvan, a fourth-grade student at Adams Elementary, donated her hair to Locks of Love after she decided she wanted to do something to help people with cancer.
April 22, 2013

A little boy's death inspired a chain of random acts of kindness that resulted in a fourth-grade student at Adams Elementary School donating her hair to Locks of Love.

Perla Galvan, daughter of Cesar and Maria Galvan, wanted to do something for her 2-year-old cousin who died when she was 3.

That's how she decided to donate her hair. She donated 10 inches of her long brown hair to the charity.

With the help of her school teacher, Mike Meyering, she found a place that would cut her hair for free. Barb's Little Clippers cut Galvan's hair outside of class.

Galvan said she was glad she cut her hair, and she wants to make a donation at least once a year.

She said she likes her hair short during the summertime anyway.

"Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada," according to the group's website.

To benefit from Locks of Love a person must be 21 or younger. The group's goal is to create the highest-quality hair prosthetics possible.

Part of the deal for the free hair cut was that Meyering would teach his class lessons on the kindness of helping strangers.

So students could learn the importance of helping people and donating hair, Meyering invited Mary Pederson, a breast-cancer survivor, to speak in his class.

Pederson was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2012. She told the students her personal way of dealing with with cancer was by talking to God.

"I've been sure for a long time that if we had cancer in our family I wouldn't be able to handle it," Pederson said.

She lost both of her parents and other family members to cancer. Pederson told the students that a lot of people survive cancer, her family just had some bad luck.

To start her discussion, Pederson asked the class if they knew what cancer is.

One student said cancer happens after blood cells get bad stuff in them.

Pederson said that was a good answer and then explained the treatments for cancer. She said people can usually get chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer.

The problem with chemotherapy, Pederson said, is that it attacks all of a patient's cells, not just the cancerous ones.

She said it causes patients stomach pain, it makes them sleepy and it makes their hair fall out. Pederson said chemotherapy attacks fast-growing cells first, and hair is one of the fastest growing things on the body.

"People don't want to be bald," Pederson said. "Especially if you're a woman."

She said that when her hair fell out she had a couple things that made her feel better. First was her nephew. He had long thick hair, and to show his support for her, he shaved it off the first day she had chemotherapy.

Also, one of her friends made do-rags to wear on her head. Pederson said they were hand-sewn and beautiful and the meant a lot to her.

She told the students that a lot of people stepped up to help her during her cancer treatments.

Pederson said that St. Anthony Regional Hospital's infusion center was a lot less scary than she thought it would be, which helped immediately.

She said the walls are bright colors, they bring you snacks and there are televisions on every chair. Also,

friends sent her a play list on iTunes full of uplifting music.

"It made me feel so good that they were thinking about me," Pederson said.

She said sending a note or a letter can be another nice thing to do.

Pederson said she even received a gift from a stranger. A woman whom her daughter worked with sent her a pink ribbon bracelet. She said she might pass that bracelet on to someone she doesn't know who is struggling with cancer. Pink has been adopted as the color for breast-cancer awareness.