MARINETTE, Wis. (WBAY) - After years of ridicule and insults, 12-year-old Jaxon Smith of Marinette is making a huge difference in the lives of kids battling cancer and who have hair loss disorders and diseases.
Jaxon Smith holds the 11 ponytails he donated to Wigs for Kids
It didn't come easy for Jaxon and it took years to accomplish.
Jaxon is an avid wrestler in 6th grade at Marinette Middle School. Cancer is no stranger to Jaxon’s family. Jaxon's grandma is a two-time cancer survivor, and Jaxon’s mom lost her best friend to cancer.
"He never knew my best friend, but she passed away when we were 16 and I have pictures of her all over with her little, short hair and crazy wigs that she would wear. She never liked the actual ones made of hair -- they were always itchy -- and Jaxon just takes all of that on himself to change the world in his own way," said Angie Smith, Jaxon’s mom.
Jaxon always knew he wanted to make a difference.
"Cancer treatments when girls didn't have hair, they were picked on, so I wanted them to have hair, and one of my mom's friends passed away and it was really tough on her," said Jaxon.
"He's like, 'I want this hair to be free, I don't want these kids to have to pay. It's bad enough they're getting picked on and on cancer medication,'" said Angie.
That long hair caused Jaxon to get picked on, often being called a girl.
"When the kids were always at recess, I would be at the detention center doing homework," said Jaxon.
"Jaxon definitely took a lot of ridicule,” said his mom. “I think it forced him, though, athletically just to be stronger.”
It took Jaxon three-and-a-half years to grow his hair out, and by the time he cut his hair it was 16 inches long.
The longer it grew, the more work it became, especially because Jaxon is involved in sports. Jaxon had to wear special caps during wrestling to keep his hair out of the way.
"They're like 'Miss, did you already check in?' and I always had to tell them I was a boy. It was humiliating," said Jaxon.
Jaxon’s perseverance paid off. He donated a total of 11 ponytails to "Wigs for Kids." Wigs for Kids provides human hair wigs for kids in need at no cost. The donation is enough to make more than 2 free wigs.
"What he's endured in three years is just an amount of perseverance that I can't even describe,” said Angie. She sounded choked up as she continued, “As his parent... to look at my kid and say, ‘I just admire you for making a huge difference and you're 12,’ that's just... kind of crazy.”
Once the wigs are made, Jaxon will be receiving letters from the recipients.
According to Wigs for Kids, an average hair replacement system can cost $1,800.