It takes a lot of courage to be a soccer forward. For left-footed Lamar Elementary student Junior Pech, however, that’s been the least of his worries the past two and a half years. The 12-year-old has instead spent his patience growing out his thick, black hair to donate to the organization Wigs for Kids.
“Well I thought since some children may have cancer, I at least could make a child happy,” Junior said, “because I’ve been through a lot of being made fun of. So with the kids, they might get made fun of too so I thought it’d be nice to give them hair so they can have a reason to be happy and smile.”
Wigs for Kids is a non-profit organization that makes wigs for children suffering from hair loss. Because of Junior’s brave donation of 10 inches of healthy hair, a child will receive a beautiful wig to help him or her maintain his or her self-image during a health crisis.
Junior’s mom, Elena, said her son has always been empathetic when it comes to the suffering of others. Recently, Elena’s grandfather passed away only six short months after being diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer. Her first cousin also died at 35 of breast cancer.
“And the rest of our family, they have diabetes on my father’s side,” said Elena. “Diabetes is kind of like cancer in that there’s no cure for it. I’m very proud that he has that kindness to give to kids who have suffered. He’s a very sensitive kid. He likes to care for other people and he doesn’t like to see them suffer like he has.”
While Junior has never suffered from cancer or diabetes, he said he has faced a lot of bullying at school. Since it took him more than two years to grow his hair out, he also faced comments from adults who confused his long hairstyle for a girl’s.
“When it was halfway grown out he wanted a haircut so bad,” Elena said. “I kept encouraging him that I know it’s frustrating, but you’re doing it for a good cause. It’s OK that people get confused and call you a girl because you’re doing it for kids who are really suffering. The last few months he’s said, ‘I don’t mind what people say or think about me, as long as I know what I’m doing it for.’”
When Junior’s hair was finally cut and styled, News and Neighbor asked him if he thought he’d grow it out again for Wigs for Kids. While he wasn’t 100 percent committed to another almost three years of fighting his locks during soccer matches, Junior’s future plans definitely include a lot of time spent helping others.
“I want to be a doctor,” Junior said. “I shadowed at the hospital and helped with some stitching. I would like to make people happy by saving them because that’s what makes me happy also.”