By Emily J. Minor
His last haircut — before The Big One — was in southern California in February
2009, during an impromptu family trip to Disneyland. He and his dad dodged into
a local shop and got it all cut off for reasons involving immediate personal
It was hot.
Then, after that, the beautiful boy with the amazing smile was spending time with his
second cousin, a young man with a brain tumor who had gone bald because of
And he began to ask questions.
“You know, he was just curious about what was happening,” says his mother, Sharon
DuBose. “They were just natural questions a child would ask.”
And that’s how 8-year-old Nong Ex DuBose wound up at Colby’s Barber Shop in Ocean
Ridge one recent morning, Tim Cox, the barber, cutting it all off, practically
right down to the scalp. A day later, his mom dropped off the 18 ponytails to
Locks of Love, a charity that’s based in West Palm Beach and distributes
hairpieces to children under age 18 who have permanent hair loss because of
It’s a wonderful circle-of-life kind of story. Handsome kid with loving parents has
enough social conscience to do something amazing — and suffer some along the
A third grader, Nong Ex — the Ocean Ridge family just calls him Ex — has
accomplished more social good than most of the grown-ups around him.
And it wasn’t always easy — like the time at tennis this past summer when the boys
were telling him to go stand in the girl’s line.
“I was against him growing his hair long,” says his father, Michael DuBose, whose
20-year-old cousin, Dallas DuBose, was the young man who died of cancer in
“There were difficulties,” DuBose said. “There was teasing.
“But he was so strong and so dedicated. It just made me so proud.”
Locks of Love is the charity started 13 years ago when Palm Beach County resident
Madonna W. Coffman’s daughter developed alopecia, a confounding disease that
causes often-permanent hair loss. Coffman herself began suffering from alopecia
in 1984, so she knew what her pre-teen daughter was going through.
The nonprofit operating south of downtown West Palm Beach has just the one office
and handles incoming hair from all across America.
Spokeswoman Lauren Kukkamaa says they provide hair prostheses foryes""> about 400 people a year, all courtesy of donations.
And while you might not think that doing for others is child’s play, Kukkamaa knows
otherwise. The majority of their donors are children, she said — even though
the likes of Ann Currie, Lisa Ling and Sammy Hagar have donated their hair to
the cause. (Hagar had his hair cut live on Jay Leno.)
“We estimate that 80 percent of our donors are children,” Kukkamaa says.
“A child can do this. They latch onto the idea of having to grow their hair to
help someone. “They don’t have to pull out a checkbook.”
They just have to have a good heart and a fair amount of stamina — like an
8-year-old boy we happen to know who recently started the third grade with a
very short buzz cut.
Locks of Love
Started in 1997 by Palm Beach County resident Madonnna W. Coffman, Locks of
Love uses donated human hair to provide prosthetic pieces for anyone under age
21 who is suffering from permanent medical hair loss. To donate or apply for
help, call 561-833-7332, or visit locksoflove.org.