Chopping locks for charity

Cuts for Cancer raises more than $34,000

Lola-Jean Gentles, PhysEd ’08, sheared off her hair to support the fifth annual Cuts for Cancer.
Lola-Jean Gentles, PhysEd ’08, sheared off her hair to support the fifth annual Cuts for Cancer.

The Lower Ceilidh of the JDUC was transformed into a cross between a makeshift salon and a live stage show on Wednesday as throngs of students gathered to see their peers shear off their hair to help cancer patients. The fifth annual Cuts for Cancer event was, to date, the most successful in Queen’s history, said Sadia Khandaker, the campaign’s public relations director. The event raised $34,313 for the Canadian Cancer Society. It drew more than 150 participants, who either offered up their hair to be made into wigs for chemotherapy patients or shaved their heads completely to show support for cancer victims and raise money. “It’s not as bad as I thought. I thought it’d be hideously ugly. Now I just think it’s ugly, at best,” laughed a freshly shorn Aaron Lemkow, ArtSci ’07. “I can’t stop touching my head!”

The event was organized by Queen’s Helping Hand Association, led this year by co-chairs Nicole McCormick, ArtSci ’07, Cheryl Foster, MSc ’07, and Vaani Murthy, ArtSci ’06.

Cuts for Cancer allows students and Kingstonians to donate their hair, if it is ten inches or longer, to charities Angel Hair for Kids and Locks of Love. It is then made into custom wigs for children whose battle with cancer has left them with severe hair loss. Natural hair wigs are quite costly, usually ringing in at about $3,000 each and requiring about four months of manufacturing time. Donations of hair help expedite the process of making and distributing wigs to children in need. However, participants with less than 10 inches of hair could still take part in the fundraiser by shaving their heads in return for monetary pledges.

Of the 152 participants, 101 individuals donated hair, 66 shaved their heads and 15 did both. Those participants who did not want to part with all their hair were treated to a new style by one of many stylists, who donated their time to help with the event. Diva Salon, First Choice Haircutters, Maison Paul Coiffure, Pierre Amelotte International, Envy Salon, All Hair Alternatives and the JDUC’s own resident salon, Signatures, supplied the stylists, who worked tirelessly the entire day to ensure the event was a success. Lemkow got right into the spirit of the event, donating his hair, shaving his head and raising $842 for the Canadian Cancer Society. “I’m pretty nervous—I’ve been waiting for this all year, but I’d kind of prefer a regular hair cut,” Lemkow said moments before taking his place on the hair cutting stage. Lemkow said his hair was getting a bit too long, anyway.

“It gets caught in doors and in my mouth.” Lemkow’s problem was quickly remedied after a few moments in the hands of the Cuts for Cancer stylists.

First-time hair donator Crystal Dixon, a Campus Bookstore employee, said she’d been growing her “big curly hair” for two years for the fundraiser. She decided to shave her head bald in support of cancer patients.

“It’s amazing. And a lot lighter,” Dixon said. “I would absolutely do it again.” The youngest of the participants was eight-year-old Gaelan O’Shea, who traveled from Ottawa with his family to shave his head alongside his older brothers and sister. At one point, three members of the O’Shea family were positioned side-by-side along the cutting stage, being clipped bald to the accompaniment of vigorous applause from the packed Lower Ceilidh. But it wasn’t just the hair donors who seemed to be having a great time.

Pam Gagne, a Pierre Amelotte International stylist, said she was thrilled to be a part of Cuts for Cancer. Gagne was right in the thick of the event, lopping off ponytails for donation and styling the remaining hair.

A host of campus and local celebrities were also on hand to show their support and cheer on the participants.

“I congratulate students on their involvement in such a worthwhile cause,” said Dean of Arts and Science Robert Silverman, addressing the crowd.

Principal Karen Hitchcock echoed Silverman’s sentiments.

“I’m so proud of each and every one of you,” she said. She also thanked the event organizers for their “selfless devotion to the cause.” Kingston Deputy Mayor Bittu George commended students for their “wonderful initiative.” He said he viewed the event as a chance for Queen’s students to get some media attention focused on their positive community spirit after a year of receiving a “bad rap in the community.”

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