The Keene State College community gathered Saturday, April 12, in the Spaulding Gym with scissors and a great amount of selflessness in hand. One-hundred women donated their own ponytails for KSC’s second annual Pantene Beautiful Lengths event.
The event, which made its debut last year on campus, allowed the Keene community members the chance to cut their hair off so it could be used on charge-free wigs for cancer patients around the country.
Last year, 60 donors participated in the event. This year, however, the KSC Beautiful Length’s Facebook page stated the event had reached over 100 willing donors — before the event, posting a status that read, “WE HAVE OFFICIALLY 100 DONORS! KSC, you are incredible. We couldn’t have done it without all of your love and support.” According to coordinator of the event Allison Bedell, 116 donors concluded Saturday’s second Beautiful Lengths.
Many students were excited when they got the opportunity to donate their hair. KSC sophomore Marta Morris, who donated her hair, felt that Beautiful Lengths is an important cause.
“It’s important to show that people actually care. I think sometimes college students have a stigma that we don’t care or we don’t want to get involved,” Morris said, “We had students up all night at Relay For Life — we have other students doing so many other fundraisers and so many other charity events.”
Morris continued, “It’s such a good thing we’re doing here today. We’re really a great campus with great students.” Within the 116 donors, people of all ages arrived at the gym to donate their hair. One of the youngest participants, though, was 11-year-old Emma Cohoon who said she could not wait for this opportunity.
“My sister donated her hair when she was a little bit younger than I am, so I really wanted to do it, too,” Cahoon said, “It was really exciting. I definitely want to do it again.”
KSC sophomore Bruna de Paula, said she was apprehensive, but still excited before her hair donation. “I was really nervous beforehand. I cried a little. I laughed. It was all worth it in the end, though,” de Paula said, “It’s just so important for the Keene State community to give back as a whole. I know we do a lot of community service and we work with a bunch of different organizations, but events like this, ones that are really personal to people, brings us together as a student body in a whole different way and just makes Keene a better community overall.”
The event was very personal to a few of the donors who, because of family members’ experiences, said they felt obligated to donate their hair for a greater cause.
Many stories of cancer survivors were passed around the room. KSC sophomore Katherine Marren said her mother’s experiences with breast cancer drove her to donate her hair at the event. “My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2012 and she went through radiation therapy and had a lumpectomy,” Marren said, “Thankfully, she did not need to have chemotherapy so she didn’t need to lose her hair, but I remember how scared I felt watching her go through that. I wanted to cut my hair today for all the women who have to go through it and actually have to lose their hair because I really got lucky with my mom.”
Marren continued, “It’s a unifying event. It helps us all do something together for a greater good and really helps us bring ourselves together.”
Emily Fennes, KSC sophomore, expressed she knew how important a hair donation is for patients with cancer. She said her grandmother struggled with breast cancer and, because of that, she donated her hair.
“I wanted to do this because so many people deserve my hair more than I do,” Fennes said, “My grandmother passed away from breast cancer when I was in fifth grade and she went through it for a long time. She was so strong. The biggest thing that I think she had a problem with was losing her hair. She never showed us that she was hurting, but when she lost her hair I think that was the hardest thing for her that we could see at such a young age.”
The turn out for KSC’s Beautiful Lengths event was more than expected. Everyone in the room was very excited about their chance to become involved.
Junior Kelsey Sobestanovich, who got the opportunity to cut Fennes’ ponytail off, knew just how important this community event is. “I think events like this are so important to Keene because we already have such a community feel, but sometimes we forget that,” Sobestanovich said, “Events like this that bring people together, not just the students, but alumni and staff and faculty, kind of just makes that community much stronger.” Sobestanovich continued, “I just love the idea of this event and how it is so selfless. I am so impressed by everyone here today.”
Steph McCann can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org