Kieran Moïse has been growing his Afro for the past six years. The impressive hairstyle stands tall and wide, a testament of his dedication to its growth. Now, at age 17, Kieran is joining the United States Air Force Academy where he will need to sport a very close buzz like all other cadets. So, Kieran decided to send off his iconic hairstyle in a big way with all of his community members, all while creating a charity drive for children with cancer. With hundreds of community members in Huntsville, Alabama gathering to watch Kieran say goodbye to his 19-inch curls, he raised $38,000.
Kieran has always held part of his identity in his hair. “He was born with a beautiful headful of hair, and for his entire life, that’s the first thing everyone noticed about him,” explained mother Kelly Moïse. “Everywhere he went, he was the guy with the big hair. There was no way not to notice it.” Kelly and her husband Patrick Moïse chronicalled Kieran’s hair journey, showing its exponential growth over the years.
Although Kieran initially grew out his hair due to his dislike of haircuts, he quickly adapted it as part of his personality, wrapping it with string lights during Christmas and styling it with bandanas and visor hats. However, despite his love for his Afro, Kieran also knew that he would, one day, need to cut it for his career.
“He knew from a very young age that he wanted to be an engineer and an astronaut,” Patrick explained. “Being accepted at the Academy was a dream come true, but also part of his path to doing great things.” That’s when Kieran decided to put his curls to good use — an appropriate send off for something that has been such a big part of his life for so long.
When Kieran was in the eighth grade, he lost a close, dear friend to cancer. Inspired by his childhood friend, Kieran created a haircut-based fundraiser to serve two purposes: to raise $1,000 for every inch of his hair, to be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and to donate his curls to Michigan nonprofit Children With Hair Loss.
“My son has always had a huge heart,” said Kelly. “He was determined that if he was going to have to get a haircut anyway, then he should pay it forward in a way that would help as many people as possible.” And so Kieran got to work designing, printing, and posting fliers for the “Kieran’s Curls for Cancer” fundraiser. He invited everyone to watch him have his curls buzzed off at a local bar that donated the space, including a link to donate on each flier.
Donations came flooding in to the website Kieran built, and when the fateful day came, over 100 people showed up at Straight to Ale to watch the big buzz. Kieran’s long curls were braided, with family and friends taking turns celebrating Kieran and cutting off his braids. Finally, family barber Jeff Johnson brought out his clippers and did the final honors of giving Kieran a buzz worthy of the Academy.
Kieran’s braided curls were carefully wrapped and mailed to Children With Hair Loss, and the fundraiser wrapped up with a little over $39,000 in donations. Soon after, the Moïses drove up to Colorado Springs and sent Kieran on his way to the Air Force Academy.
“He’s going to do great things,” Kelly concluded. “I have no doubt.”