One local boy is letting his hair loose for a good cause.
Nine-year-old Pietro Scarso, a Dyker Heights kid who was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) at age three, is raising awareness for a different cause, and has plans to donate his hair come September to children with cancer.
According to Pietro’s parents, Dayna and Manni, Pietro – the driving force behind Pietro’s Fight, a nonprofit focused on finding a cure for DMD – came up with the idea himself.
“When Pietro was home from school on Christmas break, he saw a commercial for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital on one of the kid’s channels,” said Dayna who, alongside her husband, co-founded Pietro’s Fight. “He’s such a compassionate boy, so naturally he started asking things like, ‘Why does it happen?’ and ‘What do these kids do when they don’t have hair?’”
Dayna told Pietro, “Well, some kids donate their hair and then they make wigs out of it for the children who are sick.”
And so, Pietro formed a plan.
“He woke up one morning and said, ‘Mommy, I want to do that,’” Dayna recalled. “He said, ‘I want to grow my hair and donate it.’”
The request, she said, took her and her husband’s breath away.
“For an eight-year-old boy at the time to think of something like that is still so crazy to us,” Dayna told this paper.
And so, the family created a GoFundMe as a landing page for Pietro’s efforts, which, to date, have raised $3,520 – all of which, Dayna said, will go to Gianna Nicole’s Heart of Hope Foundation, a local nonprofit whose mission is to end childhood cancer.
To make things even more personal, Pietro is donating his hair – and the funds raised through his efforts – in loving memory of his cousin Frank Giunta, Orazio Arrabito, Francesco “Frankie” Loccisano, Olivia Boccuzzi and, of course, Gianna Nicole, all of whom have lost their lives to cancer.
“I was so touched when Dayna told me of little Pietro’s plans to raise awareness for childhood cancer,” said Camille Loccisano, founder of Frankie’s Mission and mother of Frankie, a Xaverian High School student who lost his battle to bone cancer and leukemia in September of 2007, just three weeks after his 17th birthday. “This reflects who we are as a kind, caring and giving community. We help each other and we teach our children by example. We all come together in an effort to see every child healthy and free of any given serious illness. And although many of us have faced devastating situations with our children, we are all so blessed to have each other.”
As for Pietro himself, Dayna said, he’s doing well but, as exciting as another year in the books may be, birthdays can be bittersweet for families facing DMD.
“He turned nine on May 13 which is wonderful but of course we’re a little scared,” Dayna explained, stressing that, the disease’s normal progression occurs between ages nine and 16. “For us, it’s a double-edged sword because we’re so happy to be celebrating a milestone but we’re also scared of what that means for him and his body.”
But, so far, “he’s okay,” she said, adding that, health aside, he is doing “excellent” in school and has straight As and a 93 average.
“He’s always amazing and in great spirits,” she said. “He’s a master Lego builder. He loves art and piano. He’s just such a great kid.”
By press time, Pietro’s hair was three and a half inches long and, while he has a long way to go until the fall, he’s rocking it.
“He can’t see,” Dayna laughed, “and I’ve tried but he won’t let me do the man bun. He’s getting blowouts.”
As of now, Pietro is set to have his hair cut sometime in September, during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, at Salon Gio in Dyker Heights.
For more information or to donate to Pietro’s cause, visit www.gofundme.com/hairraising-boy.