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Girl who shaved head for friend felt 'punished' by school

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Kamryn Renfro, left,and her friend, Delaney Clements. AP photo Kamryn Renfro, left,and her friend, Delaney Clements. AP photo

By Eun Kyung Kim, TODAY

(NBC) - When Kamryn Renfro's best friend lost her hair from chemotherapy, the 9-year-old Colorado girl decided to shave her head so they could be bald together. She never expected her decision would get her suspended from school.

"I was pretty sad that they didn't let me go to school. I was feeling that I was punished," she said Friday on TODAY.

The school eventually let her back in following a public outcry and Kamryn's friend, 11-year-old Delaney Clements, couldn't be happier, especially after her friend made such a compassionate gesture.

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"I felt very good inside," Delaney said. "I was so happy that I would have somebody there for me and she was there for me the whole step of the way and everything."

Delaney is about to start another round of chemotherapy following her fourth relapse from a childhood cancer known as neuroblastoma. Although she and Kamryn go to different schools, they have been fast friends since meeting at gymnastics.

While playing together last weekend, Kamryn asked to have her head shaved so her friend wouldn't feel so alone in her battle. Her mom said it's hard to describe the pride she feels for her daughter.

"Proud is an understatement," said Jamie Renfro. "We are so proud of her and Delaney both. They are amazing."

After Kamryn shaved off her hair, Renfro sent the school an email as a heads-up about what her daughter would look like. That's when she was told that Kamryn would not be allowed back on campus until her hair had grown back.

Renfro took to Facebook to express her frustration and the community soon began to protest the school's decision. Caprock Academy, Kamryn's charter school in Grand Junction, Colo., eventually let her come back after the public outcry prompted the school board to hold a special meeting. On Tuesday, board members voted 3-1 in favor of Kamryn's return.

Bill Newcomer voted against the measure, telling NBC News, "I believe we as a country have succumbed to making decisions based on emotion, as opposed to logic and critical thinking."

Kamryn said schoolmates have welcomed her return.

"They just thought I was brave to shave my head for cancer," she said. "And they just told me that I was brave and I was nice and all that stuff."

Delaney's mother, Wendy Campbell, said she hopes the incident will raise awareness about the ordeals faced by children with cancer and just how much a friend's support can mean.

"So many people don't realize what these kids go through when they're in the hospital, pretty much bedridden and nobody's there with them except for their moms or dads, very little contact with a bunch of other people," she said. "So when you actually have a friend who takes an amazing step in life and shaves off all their hair — Delaney has been just so excited.

"It was probably one of their proudest moments and it was very heartwarming to watch."

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