City Look Salon's Linda Samaan smiles with Trevor Madera as he holds up his 12 ponytails after his haircut on Oct. 6. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

Punk with a purpose

Trevor Madera had been growing his hair since the third grade with the hopes of helping to provide a wig for a little girl with cancer.
By: 
Oct. 19, 2017

When Trevor Madera was in third grade, he saw a commercial on TV about St. Jude Children's Research Hospital featuring young children suffering from hair loss due to cancer. 

“He’s a tenderhearted little guy," said Leanna Kurpa, his grandmother. "He started crying. He said: ‘That’s so sad.’”

That's the moment Madera decided to help children suffering from cancer in the first way that came to mind: Growing out his hair.

“What’s the point of throwing it away when you can donate?” Madera said.

Trevor Madera before his haircut at City Look Salon on Oct. 6. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

With the support of his grandmother and his mother, he grew out his hair for about two years. At age 10, with a head full of 13 inches of silky brown strands, Madera, who is a student at Tomoka Elementary, decided it was time for the big cut. 

His hair was divided into 12 ponytails at the City Look Salon located at 114 N. Nova Road where hairstylist Linda Samaan snipped them off one by one on Friday, Oct. 6. Madera's hair was donated to national non-profit organization Wigs for Kids.

Madera's motivation for donating his hair also comes from a personal standpoint. His uncle died from the disease when Madera was three years old. It impacted Madera greatly.

“We watched [his uncle] go through the hair loss," Kurpa said. "It was horrible.”

Madera kept his hair-growing mission quiet. He's been teased and bullied for it in school, but he said he walked away and didn't pay attention to it. Kurpa said sometimes the teasing came from adults who would rudely ask him in public why he wouldn't cut his hair. She said she would ask her grandson why he wouldn't just tell them why he was growing it, but Madera would respond that it was none of their business.

Linda Samaan snips the first ponytail on Madera's head at City Look Salon on Oct. 6. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

Sometimes, Kurpa said, she would whisper to the adults why Madera had long hair and that immediately would change their manners. She said the support he received after they found out he wasn't just a "long-haired little punk" was incredible.

“No, he’s not a long-haired little punk," Kurpa said. "He’s a punk with a purpose.”

As for Madera, he said all he wanted was to do a good deed. He said donating his hair made him feel good. When he pictures the recipient of his hair, he said he sees a little girl.

“So when she goes out in the world, she doesn’t get made fun of,” Madera said.

His mother Nada Rich and Kurpa said they're proud of him, and that this action reflects Madera as a person. Rich said he roots for the underdog and overall, just wants to help people.

Madera after his haircut at City Look Salon on Oct. 6. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

“It’s just who he is," Rich said. "He’s a very caring soul."

Now that his hair will soon become a wig, Madera is focusing of fifth grade. One day, his love of math might even lead him to become an engineer.