FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. -- Welcome to a place where a slower pace is still appreciated. Where neighbors know each other; and a lot of life still happens at the local barber shop.
Robb Leatherwood arrived at the barber shop in Fayetteville with his children and his wife, Katie.
Katie jokes that she told him it was time to get a trim once he could tuck his hair into his belt. That was about 2 inches again.
Robb has come for a transformation. Master Barber, Sam Burch is the man with the magic scissors.
“I always think of Sam as the Edward Scissorhands of beards.” Robb smiled.
Robb’s hands are shaking a little bit. It’s nerve-wracking even just to shave the beard that would give Santa a run for his money.
“Last year I shaved my beard off and my daughter’s reaction is that she did not like my face.” We’ll see how Emme and her brothers Cooper and Beckett feel this time," he said.
The beard is big, but it’s a sidebar to the real story that has been growing over more than five years. Robb’s hair, from scalp to end is about 3 feet long.
After college, he started growing it just for fun. It’s not always as fun for his wife.
“It’s in the shower drain, in the vacuum, it gets caught in our toes and in our food," she said. “It is forever long.”
This hair will be used to make wigs for patients who lost theirs from medical treatments
That hair has been the center of a lot of experiences.
“There is a local church in Fayetteville who reached out to me,” Robb remembers. “They wanted me to play Jesus for vacation Bible school.”
The computer programmer by profession has volunteered in town as Jesus for more than 10 years.
“A lot of the kids who grew up through that whether it would be at Lowe’s or at Chick-fil-A whenever I would see them it’s always like, ‘Hey Jesus!”
That hair has become a signature, identity and a bigger purpose.
“The purpose of growing it is to be a blessing to someone else,” Robb said.
Katie measured the ponytails they sectioned off in the barber shop. Each one is 28 inches long. They decide to cut each one at 20 inches to leave Robb with enough to keep a ponytail.
He has spent years carefully taking care of his hair to prepare this gift. His hair will be used to make wigs for children through an organization called Wigs for Kids.
“His hair is so beautiful it can help heal a little person who is going through so much," Katie said.
Sam and Katie team up to divide the hair into nine ponytails, and they braid them to get them ready for the final cut.
“They didn’t teach us this in barber school, but hey, I had horses growing up so I learned to braid," Sam said.
He cuts the braids off, one by one.
“I feel lighter already.” He added, “Hopefully I can start getting ready as fast as my wife does.”
When the cutting is done there is a combined 180 inches of hair that will make a child feel more like themselves again.
"On the inside, we are all beautiful in our ways,” Robb said. “But if we can give them some hope outwardly, so they don’t have to go through any bullying or name calling, it is more than worth it.”
The verdict is in.
“You look hairless, Dad," Emme said.
Cooper liked it. “You look great, Dad.”
The youngest, Beckett is just content to have a lollipop and crawl back into his dad’s lap.
A lot of like happened at Sam’s Barber Shop this day, and a lot of lessons the Leatherwoods hope their children will always carry with them.
“To put others first,” Robb said. It’s about making an impact bigger than yourself. And it is about dreaming big to help others.”
Over the last 12 years, Robb Leatherwood has donated his hair five times. It adds up to more than 6 feet of hair to help make wigs for patients who’ve lost their hair from medical treatment or diseases.