Relay For Life commenced on Friday, February 5, at noon. By midnight, Lynzy Groves and Chatham’s Relay for Life committee reached their goal of the night, $15,000. One team that fundraised tirelessly followed through on their pledge that night.
Sophomore Krista Arena, junior Fia Nicoloso, and sophomore Kaitlyn Shirey created the “Loose Ends” Relay for Life team when they decided to donate their hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. They reached their initial goal of $300 in only three days, and continued to receive support and funding in the days leading up to the event.
After raising $1,200 — four times their original goal — Loose Ends went under the blade at 7 p.m. to make good on their deal. Two donors at a time took a seat and allowed their hair to be separated into sections and put into smaller ponytails. Then loved ones, highest bidders, and friends came forward to cut one ponytail at a time. After the initial chop, cheers erupted from the watching crowd, and stylists got to work, cleaning up the new short hair looks.
“I’m very excited to show it off. I kind of feel like a different person,” said Arena, who cut off 11 inches of hair and has never had her hair short before. “I [felt] like I should buy some styling gel, but after [the chop] I think I’m good.”
“I love my hair,” said Nicoloso, who also cut 11 inches. “I’m not going to change it. I like the way that [the hair stylist] styled it a lot, and I think that it will grow out well. I was looking at different hairstyles to show her but then I thought: ‘people are going to do what they want to do.’ So I told her to have fun.”
“I feel great. I love it, it makes me so happy,” said Shirey, who cut off over 18 inches of hair. Her hair used to be two inches above her waist, but she now has a short Mohawk with shaved sides. When asked if she was going to do anything else to her hair, she said she had no long-term plans. “I hope that [whoever gets the hair] really likes it and I’m glad that I could contribute to their head.”
After hearing that the three young women were getting their hair cut, at least four other students joined the cause including senior Brianna Young, junior Diana Cabrera, and senior Christina Fortunato. Pantene Beautiful Lengths is a program that asks for 8 inches of hair or an $8.00 donation that goes towards making free, real-hair wigs for cancer survivors. Over 800,000 ponytails have been donated to them, resulting in over 42,000 wigs. The program received at least seven wigs from the Chatham Relay for Life Loose Ends team.
“I’m sad that [the survivors] need the wig in the first place, but hopefully this will give them more normalcy,” said Nicoloso. “When I was in 8th grade, [I knew] a five-year-old girl who was diagnosed with leukemia and getting a wig really changed her spirits. I hope my hair can do something similar for another kid.”