Kind heart, short hair

Published: June 5, 2008 | 7095th good news item since 2003

Unlike most high school seniors, Lukas Garrison waited until after graduation to cut his hair.

The young man from Solon Springs has become known for his long auburn ponytail, which he has been growing since he was a freshman.

“At first I didn’t like it,” said his sister Haylee, 14, because everybody kept asking her about her brother’s lengthening hair. “Now I like it; it’s unique.”

Thursday, the 18-year-old donated his 20-inch long ponytail to Locks of Love. The nonprofit organization uses donated hair to provide hairpieces for children suffering from long-term hair loss, often due to cancer.

“Somebody’s going to appreciate that hair,” said Garrison’s mother, Traci. She said her son took a lot of teasing while growing his locks, but he didn’t let it bother him.

“He’s just got a very kind heart,” she said.

The hardest part of the process was going from a crew cut to bangs at the very start.

“As soon as I could get it back in a ponytail, it was in a ponytail permanently,” he said.

Garrison, a clarinet player, wore his ponytail to band concerts. He traveled to France, Italy and England with classmates as part of their AP English trip with his long hair held back.

It hasn’t kept Garrison from landing jobs. The teen currently monitors the boat landing for St. Croix Inn. One summer, his mother said, he held down three different jobs.

When asked why he grew his hair so long, Garrison said it was a combination of “sheer laziness” and a chance to help others.

He decided to try a “surfer” style for the next month and a half before it becomes a military buzz cut. He leaves for U.S. Marine Corps basic training in July.

“I’ve been interested in the military since I was 3,” he said. “I believe in serving my country.”

In a way, said his mother, he’s following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Ernie Garrison, who served in World War II.

Kids at school used to think Garrison’s long hair was “weird,” Haylee said, but “I think they learned to appreciate it.”

As stylist Meredith Johnson gathered and clipped Garrison’s hair Thursday at Regis Salon in the Mariner Mall, his mother and sister looked on.

“I like it,” Haylee said.

“What a difference,” said her mother.

For the first time in years, she said, it won’t take two days for her son’s hair to dry.

Garrison knows he will miss the hair, but he was glad to see it go. He smiled as he looked in the mirror.

“My head is really light now,” he said.

Johnson said Regis is one of many salons that collect hair for Locks of Love. It must be at least 10 inches long to donate, she said. While the customer still pays for the hair cut, Johnson said, the salon ships the hair out.

Published in Locks of Love
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