“I found Chai Lifeline while doing a Google search, looking for a group who would take my hair at less than 12 inches (I believe it ended up being that length in the end, but I wanted to be sure it would be accepted).

I chose Chai because of this and the added benefit that if it wasn’t long enough, the shorter hair would be sold and still benefit someone.

I am a high school teacher in Geraldton, Ontario. The school pulls in students from several small communities in the area, and our current school population is only around 210 students. We participate in the Terry Fox Walk and fundraiser each year, despite our small numbers and economic hardships facing the area. Last year, we successfully raised $700, surpassing our goal of $500.

When it came a time this year to pick our goal, our fundraising coordinator decided to set the bar high at $1000. She jokingly asked our staff at lunch one day if anyone would consider shaving their head to incentivize the fundraiser, or if we could come up with any other good incentive. No one took the bait, but I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.

I’d been considering cutting my long hair short at the start of the summer, but never did. Over the next few days, I thought hard and did some research about cancer, hair loss, radiation and chemotherapy, and hair donation. I pretty quickly made up my mind that I was going to do it. So, I challenged my small school and community: if we could raise $1000, I would shave my head and cut off my ponytail in front of the whole school.

Support was slow, and even on the day of our Terry Fox Walk I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it; I’d left work the previous day at a count of ~$525. However, I went prepared and hopeful the next morning with clippers, elastics, and a smile. Sure enough, as we were about to begin our walk, my principal called me over and asked if I was sure I still wanted to cut my hair, as we were going to be receiving donations from members within the school board to push us to our goal. I was certain, and so when we returned from our walk, we gathered everyone in the gymnasium and announced our success.

Surprisingly, only one student had asked if she could cut my hair, so I invited her onto the stage to do the honours of cutting off the two ponytails. To keep the excitement up, I offered the first “buzz” of the clippers to any students willing to donate $10 right there. A volunteer ran up — a student of mine from last year. Unfortunately, the clippers were not working, so I told him to grab two big chunks of the remaining hair and snip! I tried again, and had another student — one of my current ones — come up with a toonie to snip another chunk! Another staff member snipped the rest off with scissors, and a working part of clippers was brought in at lunch to finish the job. All in all, it was a great experience for myself and the school community.

We succeeded in reaching our goal and had a great time cutting my hair. I spoke about why raising money for cancer research is so important and why I had chosen to donate my hair.

Now, I hope that my hair will bring as much happiness to someone else as it did to me, either through becoming part of a wig or offsetting the costs. I have attached some photos of my before and after look, and a photo from the event.”

~ Deidra Gerrard


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