BY JUSTIN REGAN — Jack Central - Home of The Lumberjack student newspaper
On Sept. 29, the ballroom of the Woodlands Hotel in Flagstaff became the site of a special event for a special cause. The event was called Hair for Hope and, as the name suggests, people were donating their hair to Cancer patients as well as donating proceeds to the Arizona Oncology Foundation.
Flagstaff High School cheerleaders Kristin Slayton and Libbi Smith paint each others face for the Hair for Hope event. This is the first year this event has occurred. (Photo by Kelsey Metoxen)
“[Arizona Oncology Foundation] is a foundation that has been put together to raise money to help differentiate costs for our patients,” said patient services coordinator for Arizona Oncology Desma DeGraw. “Cancer treatment costs are very, very high so it pays for the lodging [and] if patients need it, gas cards. Sometimes we can help out with things like utility bills, occasionally rent or things like that just because it is so expensive to try to cure cancer.”
With volunteers standing by, people who attended the event could step forward and have their hair cut for donations. The two major organizations that accept hair for wigs are Pantene and Locks of Love. Both have a minimum length requirement for donation — Pantene requires eight inches of hair and Locks of Love requires 10 — so those with shorter hair could simply get a buzz cut for a monetary donation. Others brought in the tail from their already cut hair. One of these donors was Jodie Stark, a Nurse Manager at Arizona Oncology who gave 12 inches.
“I was ready for a haircut,” Stark said. “It’s for a good cause and I haven’t cut my hair in seventeen years. My husband won’t be very happy, but that’s okay.”
Another donor was Flagstaff resident Jackie Kypta. Kypta gave 10 inches of hair on a whim when she drove by the hotel and saw a sign asking for donations. She asked her eleven-year-old daughter if she wanted to donate and she said yes, so to the shears they went.
“I love my hair,” Kypta said. “But if I was going through cancer treatment and didn’t have any hair, I’d love my hair even more. So that’s what it means: that we are sharing it with somebody who doesn’t have the option of having their own hair.”
Along with hair donations, Hair for Hope also organized attractions such as face painting, balloon twisting, laser tag, a raffle, a silent auction and performances from comedians and a DJ. There was also an art display from the 2010 Lily Oncology on Canvas Art Competition, a competition held every other year where patients, caregivers and those affected by cancer can submit an art piece with a few paragraphs on what the piece means to them. This was the foundation’s first major fundraiser and for those who planned the event, like Stark, it is a much-needed event after running out of annual funds early last year.
“I hope we raise enough funds to be able to cover the entire year,” Stark said. “This year we had to cut off . . . We haven’t had any funds to help patients so we want to get to the point where we have funds all year long.”
The foundation hopes to make this a biannual event with one of them being in the Sedona/Cottonwood area.