"Kieran has always been known for his hair. It was a big part of his personality," Kieran Moise's mom says.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- After growing his hair for six years, an Alabama teenager has cut it off to raise thousands of dollars for children with cancer.
Kieran Moise, 18, started growing out his hair in the eighth grade, after losing a friend to brain cancer. He had seen people donate their hair to children who had lost theirs during medical treatment and wanted to do the same, his mother Kelly Moise, 49, told CNN.
"Kieran has always been known for his hair. It was a big part of his personality and who he was," she said. "But he has always been the most compassionate and caring person. Since he was 6 years old, he somehow had the mindset of raising money and giving it to people who need it, and that never changed."
In May, Moise graduated from high school with an impressive 19-inch Afro. But with him set to enter the U.S. Air Force Academy, it was finally time for the big trim.
To maximize his impact, Moise organized a live event at a local brewery in Huntsville and an online fundraising campaign called "Kieran's Curls for Cancer," where he aimed to raise $1,000 per inch cut.
On May 29, nearly 100 people attended the event, where they watched Moise get his hair braided and snipped off. His locks were donated to Children With Hair Loss, a non-profit organization in Michigan that makes free wigs for kids and young adults facing medically related hair loss.
By the end of the day, the event raised $20,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and has continued to raise money online. As of Saturday, it was more than $39,000.
"Charitable giving comes in many forms, from direct acts of kindness to impactful public statements that motivate others to come together to support a cause," Richard C. Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, told CNN.
"Kieran's simple act of kindness exemplifies the power of younger generations and is something to celebrate, a selfless decision that will make a direct impact on the lives of the kids at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and children everywhere for years to come."
Moise is training at the academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and does not have access to phones or computers for four weeks.
When asked by his mom how he was ready to part with his beloved curls, Kelly Moise said his answer was simple: "If I can do this, everyone can do this. There's nothing special about helping others, you just have to want to do it."
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