Nathan Lord didn't get flustered when people standing behind him mistook him for a girl because of his long hair.
"I just turned around and laughed," he said. "Sometimes I'd tell them I'm a boy and they would say, 'Oh, I'm so sorry.' "
Lord, 11, the son of Ed and Brandy Lord of Northwood, has two brothers ages 14 and 8 who have normal-length hair for a boy. Nathan, however, was growing his for a good cause.
The 4-foot-4, 76-pound fifth-grader, who played safety and backup running back for the Northwood Middle School football team last fall, donated his boyhood mane to the Locks of Love program as a Christmas gift to kids in need.
Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. Locks of Love meets a unique need for children by using donated hair to create high-quality hair prosthetics.
Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure.
Lord had his hair cut on Dec. 23.
"It was time," Brandy Lord said.
Nathan's hair measured 17 inches from the crown of his head to his shoulder blades. He started growing his hair long two years ago in December.
"That was his idea," Brandy said. "It was just a phase he was going through. It was just the shaggier boy look. He went through kind of an extreme. He wanted to get it cut before the school year this year. He said, 'If I'm going to get it cut off, I might as well wait and let it grow and give it to somebody who needs it.'
"He's very sweet, very sensitive. He's always thinking of somebody else. I thought that was the greatest. I said, 'If that's what you want to do, that's wonderful. The only deal is, you have to keep it clean, keep it out of your eyes and keep it brushed. Long hair does need some maintenance.' "
Brandy said Nathan knew of a family friend, Sgt. Doug Hubaker, a D.A.R.E. officer with the Northwood Police Department, who donated his hair a few years ago. Nathan, who likes to surf the Internet, did some research and found Locks of Love, which requires a minimum of 10 inches of hair.
"He's been getting a ruler out every couple months," Brandy said. "He'd say, 'Mom, how many inches of hair do I have?' He still wanted a little on his neck after it got cut, so it wouldn't get cold in the winter."
Nathan's long hair made for some interesting stories.
One day, when Nathan's football team was playing Lakota's fifth grade team at the University of Toledo Glass Bowl, a referee even asked him if he was a little girl playing football or a boy who really needed a hair cut. Nate responded, "I'm a boy who needs a haircut."
"That's something Nathan definitely remembers," Brandy said. "After the game he came up to us and said, 'Mom you're not going to believe this. The ref asked me if I was a little girl or a boy who needed a haircut.' I just laughed. He gets that a lot. especially at the grocery store. Someone will say, 'Oh, she's so cute,' and he'll turn around and he'll say, 'I'm just a boy with long hair.' "
What did Nathan's friends think of the long locks?
"A lot of people told me to get it cut," he said. "I'd say, 'If you shave your head, I'll get mine cut.' "
And so he did - two days before Christmas. Nathan's longtime barber, Arne Bowles, did the honors at Woodville Road Barbershop.
"It still covers his ears and is about chin length," Brandy said.
Nathan said losing all that hair "felt weird. I stepped outside and my neck was cold. I just missed the hair. I just like how it feels."
Nathan said he intends to donate to Locks of Love again.
"I'll start growing it right now," he said.
For more information on Locks of Love, go to www.locksoflove.com.