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Health

Local Boy with DMD Donates Hair to Kids with Cancer

A local boy is ditching his “boy”-bun 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 on Wednesday, Sept. 19, donated his hair 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 and, after 10 months of trading in haircuts for what his mother described as a “miniature man-bun,” Pietro stopped by Salon Gio in Dyker Heights to finish what he’d started.

His hair was donated to Wigs for Kids in memory of his cousin Frank Giunta, as well as Francesco Loccisano, Olivia Boccuzzi, Gianna Nicole and Orazio Arrabito (the brother of Pietro’s longtime barber, Alessandro) — all of whom have died from cancer.

Paying it another step forward, Pietro raised funds while growing out his locks for Gianna Nicole’s Heart of Hope, an organization whose mission is to assist other families battling pediatric cancer in honor of its namesake angel.

To date, Pietro’s GoFundMe page — dubbed “Hairraising Boy” — has raised $4,395. The money, Dayna said will be split amongst two families in need.

As for his salon appointment, Pietro sat like a champ.

“He was so excited, almost to the point where he didn’t want to cut it anymore, he wanted to go another two months so he could give it to two children,” Dayna said, adding that the family chose September in collaboration with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. “Now he’s like, ‘Mom, I’m growing my hair again.’”

“He was really happy with the turnout,” she went on. “It’s amazing coming from a fundraising family how much even our children, Pietro and his brother Nico, pick up. Just the idea that he wanted to do this on his own and give a kid some confidence really resonated with our whole family.”

Pietro was diagnosed with DMD, a recessive X-lined form of muscular dystrophy that affects one in every 3,500 to 5,000 boys, at just three years old. Pietro’s Fight was founded in hopes of helping to find a cure and has rallied around him ever since.

“Pietro has had a support system since the age of two and a half. Pietros Fight is his normal, so he understands the importance of family and even strangers standing by our side to help, and he wanted to do the same,” said Dayna, who added that Pietro just started the fourth grade and is doing well.

For more information on Pietro’s Fight, visit www.pietrosfight.org.

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