When Samantha Scott visited the supermarket and ran into a friend who lost her hair due to stomach cancer, she was left “mortified” when her young son, Josh Scott-Hill, blurted out, “Where have your eyebrows gone?”
But his curiosity would spark an 18-month journey that would see the now 11-year-old, who lives in the U.K., grow his hair an impressive 10 inches, all of which will be donated to make wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy or radiation.
After their run-in with the friend in the supermarket, Scott-Hill told his mother that he wanted to grow his hair to help others in her situation.
“My friend contacted me after our catch up, as she was afraid that she had frightened Josh,” Scott told PEOPLE. “But little did she know, she was his inspiration.”
Chemotherapy drugs attack cells that grow rapidly, such as cancer cells, but they also target the cells found in hair roots. Because of this, these powerful medications can cause patients to lose hair over the entirety of their bodies. Cancer patients who use radiation directed at the scalp, as in the treatment for a brain tumor, will often experience hair loss since radiation can damage hair follicles.
Over the course of letting his mane grow to lengths that would make Fabio jealous, Scott-Hill found out that the journey wouldn’t be as easy as simply skipping a few haircuts. As his hair inched past his shoulders, he became the target of teasing and name-calling. He’s been called a “girl” more times than he can count, he says.
Over time, he has learned to brush off the bullying, and his tenacity has paid off. He’s raised about $2,635 through the donation website, JustGiving, which will be donated to Maggie’s, a U.K. cancer care organization.
“I have learnt how determined and tenacious he is,” Scott said of her son. “Some of the adverse comments have really motivated him to carry on to succeed.”
Scott-Hill’s days of resembling a miniature Thor will conclude on July 15, the day he will chop his locks and officially donate them to Little Princess Trust. He says he’s already thinking of growing out his hair for charity a second time.
“Helping people makes me feel happy, and I have realized that I want to carry on helping others less fortunate than me,” he says. “I would like to say to anyone out there just to be yourselves and be your own unique character and you will be fine. Believe me, I know.”