Aimee Lessman gently grabbed the side of 8-year-old Jayson Hodges’ face and gave him a kiss on the forehead.
“I love you buddy,” she told him. “Thank you so much.”
Jayson was sitting in a style seat at Lessman’s hair salon, Cherry Lane Salon, 611 W. Cherry Lane, on Friday night where Lessman cut more than 9 inches of hair off his head.
The red, curly locks that once grazed Jayson’s shoulders fell to the floor with every clip. He now has a buzz cut.
The Radio Park Elementary School student had his hair cut as part of a mission to donate to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths and Wigs for Kids — two Locks of Love-type programs that provide hair to cancer patients who lost theirs.
And he did it in honor of Lessman, 42 — the mother of his best friend, Evan Lessman.
“It’s remarkable and I can’t say enough about how gracious this boy is,” Lessman said. “The support has been beyond anything I could comprehend.”
The haircut was also Lessman’s first time back with shears after being diagnosed with a primitive neuroectodermal tumor on the right side of her brain in March. She subsequently underwent surgery a couple of weeks later.
The last haircut she gave was March 10 — a day before she landed in the hospital, Lessman said.
“It’s feels good, but I’m not ready to do this full-time quite yet,” Lessman said, who has been a hairstylist for 19 years.
Her salon opened in September 2004.
Jayson’s choice to grow his hair came from inspiration from Lessman.
“We were at Wal-Mart and he saw a boy with no hair and asked why he didn’t have any,” said Kim Hodges, Jayson’s mother. “I explained to him what cancer and chemotherapy was. Then we were in line and an old lady was playing with his hair saying how lucky he was to have it.”
That’s when Jayson said, “I can grow it out for Evan’s mom.”
“I just wanted to do it,” Jayson said. “It was for my best friend’s mom.”
Evan and Jayson have been best friends since first grade. The third-graders are inseparable, and Evan said it’s “cool” what Jayson did.
Hodges said Jayson usually gets a haircut twice a year — at the beginning of football season and right before baseball season.
The last haircut Jayson had — before Friday — was in July 2013.
“We didn’t think he would last,” Hodges said. “I’d ask him, ‘Are you ready for a haircut?’ and he’d say, ‘Not yet.’”
Now, with the hair that’s been cut, Jayson just has to secure it in an envelope and mail it to the organizations he’s donating to.
“He’s so humble, but we’re so proud,” Hodges said.