Student stands up for classmate who lives with hair-pulling disorder

Writer: Derrick Shaw

An elementary school student we got to meet lives with a disorder that involves the urge to pull out his hair, and he was made fun of at school for it. But his friend made sure he wasn’t alone.

If you ask Jeremiah Herrera, he will tell you school can be tough sometimes.

“I get bullied, and my hair isn’t long like everyone else’s,” Jeremiah explained. “It doesn’t make me feel good. It makes me sad.”

Jeremiah lives with trichotillomania, which involves sudden urges to pull out body hair. Every two weeks, his mom has to cut his hair very short.

“By keeping it low, it’s hard for him to pinch it and pull it out,” mother Frances Thomas said.

Some kids make fun of him, but his friend Mark stood up to them.

“He’s my best friend; I love him,” Mark Garno said.

So mark decided to cut his hair short too.

“I walked into the classroom, and I saw him and started crying,” Jeremiah said. “It’s just no one has ever done that for me. Happiest thing that has ever happened.”

“For once, my son felt normal,” Frances said.

Tuesday, Jeremiah and Mark’s moms met for the first time.

“For you to care, I can’t say how much it means,” Thomas said. “It means the world to me. From one mom to the next, thank you.”

“He’s always had a good heart, cared about other people and other people’s feelings,” said Krystle Johnson, Mark’s mother.

There is no bond like friendship.

“I hope it shows them to be kind to others,” Mark said.

Jeremiah’s mom hopes that Mark receives the “Do the Right Thing” award from The School District of Lee County.

“To do something selfless and shaved his head for me, and it just made me have a lot of joy,” Jeremiah said.

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