CHARLOTTE – Wide receiver Brenton Bersin and offensive lineman Brian Folkerts often discussed how and when they would cut their long, luscious manes.
The idea they ultimately decided on couldn't have been any better.
On Wednesday, Bersin and Folkerts had their hair cut in the Panthers locker room at Bank of America Stadium, and they're donating their locks to Wigs for Kids – an organization that provides needy children with hair replacement free of charge.
"Wigs for Kids is a great organization. They make them completely free for the recipients," Folkerts said. "This was the ideal fit for us. It just worked out great."
Carrie Keuten, event coordinator at Levine Children's Hospital, explained how vital donations are for children who have lost their hair because of illness.
"This is incredible," Keuten said. "Hair is really important for these kids. It's important for their self-confidence, their self-esteem. We all feel complete with our hair. It's a very important part of who we are. It can define them in personal ways that none of us can experience unless we've actually been in their shoes."
This was Folkerts' first hair cut in four years. When he learned he might have a chance to play in the NFL, Folkerts, then at Washburn University, decided to symbolically connect his hair to his NFL dream.
"I made a goal that I wouldn't cut it until I made it to the NFL," Folkerts said.
After playing in 26 games in two seasons for the Panthers, Folkerts felt he had achieved his goal. So his symbolic hair went from something personal to something shared.
"It's just a great cause," said Folkerts, whose hair was cut by honorary stylist Jeramiah Karriker, a nine-year-old oncology patient at Levine Children's Hospital. "It can do a world of difference."
Bersin's last hair cut was back in the summer of 2012, his first training camp with the Panthers. He liked sporting the long hair but knew it was the right time for a meaningful trim.
"Maybe a little girl who lost her hair can have mine," Bersin said. "I can just grow it out and do it again. These kids, they need those wigs."
Seventeen-year-old Wesley Thornburg, Bersin's honorary stylist, knows just how much kids need them. She's worn wigs herself after battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia twice.
"I wore (wigs) when I relapsed," Thornburg said. "When you are a teenager, hair is a pretty big thing for a girl.
"It was an honor to cut (the Panthers') hair. It was just awesome."