Long before the hairdressers were forced to close their doors and overgrown locks inadvertently became the look of lockdown, Sonny McElarney, eight, was growing his hair in a touching act of solidarity with children who have cancer.
When the Rush native went to visit a family friend, Slavomir Vavro, two years ago, the pair bonded over Lego and the building blocks for Sonny’s fundraiser were laid. Slav, who is now 15, was a year battling a rare cancer, Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, which he continues to fight to this day.
Originally inspired by his mum, Emily McElarney, who held a yoga fundraiser in aid of Slav’s treatment, Sonny also wanted to raise money for his friend in his own way and has raised a few eyebrows along the way.
“As an eight-year-old boy, he’s had his fair share of slagging for the hairstyle, unfortunately. It has truly been a commitment and a challenge, with people often asking him why he wouldn’t just cut his hair. As well as that, he actually really hates getting his hair brushed. Despite all of this, he insisted that he would stick through and we’re so proud of him”, his mum told the Gazette.
“Sonny is very emotionally intelligent and attuned to people’s feelings. This was his first experience of cancer and he holds such a strong empathy for children who have to go through this struggle at such a young age,” she continued.
Sonny resisted the temptation to cut his hair when he was teased, his determination seemingly growing with his hair length. Now that he is nearing his target, he has been checking the ruler to ensure that he will meet the minimum length requirement of seven inches to donate to the Little Princess Trust.
Sonny’s aim is to raise money for Slav’s treatment ahead of his big chop and then to donate his hair to The Little Princess Trust, which provides free real hair wigs to children and young people, who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment or other conditions.
Ms McElarney commented: “Slav is having such a tough time, his life isn’t easy. We are all in awe of him and his bravery and I know that his family are also very proud of Sonny for his efforts to help”.
Donations to Sonny’s worthy cause can be made via his Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/sonnys-hair-donation-for-children-with-cancer?utm_campaign=p_cp_url&utm_medium=os&utm_source=customer
You can learn more about Slav’s experience with a rare cancer diagnosis on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/239454736595683/