Carolina Panthers

Panthers players donate hair to Wigs for Kids

Wesley Thornburg, center left, 17, a two-time leukemia survivor, smiles as she holds up a section of Carolina Panthers’ Brenton Bersin’s blond hair, and oncology patient Jeramiah Karriker, center right, 9, holds up a section of Brian Folkerts’ brown hair in the Carolina Panthers locker room. The two players made a hair donation toWigs for Kids on Wednesday.
Wesley Thornburg, center left, 17, a two-time leukemia survivor, smiles as she holds up a section of Carolina Panthers’ Brenton Bersin’s blond hair, and oncology patient Jeramiah Karriker, center right, 9, holds up a section of Brian Folkerts’ brown hair in the Carolina Panthers locker room. The two players made a hair donation toWigs for Kids on Wednesday. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers center Brian Folkerts, along with teammate Brenton Bersin, agreed to have his ponytailed hair cut off and donated to a charity that makes wigs for child cancer patients.

Folkerts had more than a foot of his brown hair lopped off Wednesday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium, and Bersin, a wide receiver, a similar length of his blond locks.

But Folkerts drew the line at his scraggly beard, and Bersin dismissed a suggestion that his girlfriend donate her long locks to the cause.

Every man has his limit, but both players did their part Wednesday, three months after approaching team officials with the idea of putting their hair to good use.

What followed was a collaborative among the Panthers, Levine Children’s Hospital and Wigs for Kids, a charity that provides wigs for children who have lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy, radiation, burns or other medical issues.

Folkerts and Bersin said they liked Wigs for Kids because the organization doesn’t charge recipients for their products.

Wesley Thornburg, 17, who is from Dallas in Gaston County, has survived two bouts with leukemia. She didn’t care much about losing her hair from the chemo when she was 8. But she wore a wig last year after the cancer returned when she was 16.

“When you’re a teenager, hair’s a pretty big thing for a girl,” Thornburg said.

Bersin, a wide receiver who grew up in Charlotte, said he had not had a haircut since before his first training camp with the Panthers, in 2012. He asked the stylist to shape his straight, blonde hair into the floppy look worn by the character Sunshine in the football movie “Remember the Titans.”

Bersin said the shorter ‘do would take some getting used to. But he said sleeping will be less of an issue.

“It’s in your mouth sometimes when you wake up,” he said.

Not anymore.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera stopped by the locker room briefly to watch the proceedings, which were accompanied by salon music and included a guest list featuring Sir Purr, Thornburg and Jeramiah Karriker, a second-grader from Endhaven Elementary who is an oncology patient at Levine.

Thornburg and Karriker gave a thumbs-up to the new looks of Bersin and Folkerts, who received the nickname “Caveman Center” from Jordan Gross and Steve Smith when he first came to Charlotte, in part because of his long hair.

Folkerts might need a new nickname – and a beard trim.

“The hair’s gone, but I’m going to have to grow the beard out,” he said. “Balance it out.”

If that’s the case, Folkerts might have another donation for Wigs for Kids – albeit facial hair – in a year or so.

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