Panthers' Bersin, Folkerts give up their hair for kids

Brenton Bersin (left) and Brian Folkerts donated their long hair to a charity that provides wigs for children. Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez/Carolina Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Wesley Thornburg lost all of her hair two years ago when she underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments after a relapse of acute lymphoid leukemia.

Thanks to a friend with a collection of wigs, she had options while her hair grew out.

Thanks to Carolina Panthers wide receiver Brenton Bersin and offensive lineman Brian Folkerts, other children will have the same options.

Bersin hadn’t had a haircut since August 2012, when one of his buddies in college shaved his head. Folkerts hadn’t had one since his junior year in college four years ago, when one of his friends gave him a buzz cut.

But both were more than willing to get one on Wednesday to benefit Wigs for Kids, an organization that provides free hair replacement systems for children who have lost their hair due to medical-related issues.

The ceremonial cuts, where “clipping is allowed," took place in the Panthers' locker room at Bank of America Stadium. Thornburg, 18, was the honorary stylist for Bersin and Jeramiah Karriker, 9, was for Folkerts.

Thornburg said it best what their donations will mean to other kids by relating what a wig meant to her.

“When you’re a teenager, hair is a pretty big thing for a girl," she said.

Carrie Keuten, the events coordinator at Charlotte’s Levine Children’s Hospital where Thornburg and Karriker have been patients, said hair donations such as these are “extremely vital."

“First of all, I know both these kids and they’ve been through a lot ... a lot in their young years," she said. “I’ve seen them with hair, I’ve seen them without hair and now I’ve seen them with hair again. For their self- confidence, for their self-esteem, to see a radiant smile ... we all feel complete with our hair.

“They’re beautiful with or without it. But [hair] can define them in personal ways that none of us can actually experience unless we’ve actually been in their shoes.’"

Folkerts and Bersin had their hair styled after the initial cuts. Folkerts went for the 2015 look of New England wide receiver Julian Edelman. Bersin went for the “Sunshine" look, otherwise known as the character Ronnie Bass in the movie “Remember The Titans."

Both thought about getting their hair cut this past summer. Both are glad they waited for a more worthwhile event.

Folkerts said he might have gotten his hair cut even sooner but felt he had to keep it growing after former tackle Jordan Gross nicknamed him “Caveman."

The beard, however, he’s keeping.

“I’m going to have to grow the beard out to balance it out," he said with a laugh.

Bersin admitted he was “stressed" about getting the cut, particularly when people began laughing after the initial clips. But after seeing the final product he – as well as his girlfriend – approved.

“Maybe a little girl can have hair now," Bersin said. “And I can grow it out and get it cut [for this] again."