It’s just hair.
Rebekah Russell—who loves her long, luxurious, curly, crimson mane—has to keep reminding herself of that.
As part of Rowan University’s third annual St. Baldrick’s Day event, Russell will be one of 54 Rowan student shavees—and one of six women—to shave their heads to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. Proceeds from the event, which is Tuesday, March 26, at 7 p.m. in the Pit of the Chamberlain Student Center, will go to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation (www.stbaldricks.org).
Rowan students have set a goal of $20,000 for the foundation. Russell already has reached her $2,000 fundraising goal. In fact, she’s currently the leading Rowan fundraiser at $2,222.51. It seems a lot of supporters want her to shed her signature locks. And Russell, herself, is leading the charge.
“I’m incredibly nervous, but incredibly excited as well,” says Russell, a junior art major from Cary, N.C. In addition to raising funds for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Russell will donate her hair to Locks of Love to help make wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments. “It took a whole year to prepare myself mentally for this, but it’s going to be worth it.
“In our society we have become so attached to our hair, myself included. I’m hoping to be able to break away from that—at least for some time. I’m trying to make a statement and illustrate the point that hair is not beauty. It doesn’t define who we are and it certainly doesn’t define our beauty.
“The kids who lose their hair due to cancer have no choice and they should not have to worry about losing their beauty or who they are,” she adds.
Russell and Courtney VanLeuvan, a junior psychology and Honors major from Toms River, made a pact to shave their heads this year. VanLeuvan decided to become a shavee after volunteering with Give Kids the World Village in Florida as part of an Alternative Winter Break Trip this year at Rowan. Children with life-threatening conditions and their families visit the village for a respite from treatments.
“At Give Kids the World Village, I saw children having so much fun and enjoying life despite their illness,” VanLeuvan says. “If they have the strength to go through treatment and fight cancer, I can give up my hair to support their fight. St. Baldrick’s Day shows that the children—and their families—have support from thousands of people.”
During St. Baldrick’s Day, students will publicly shave their heads in the Pit of the Chamberlain Student Center. A group of volunteer barbers will do the honors. Students also conduct raffles of donated prizes throughout the evening to raise additional funds for the foundation.
In 2011, the first year for St. Baldrick’s at Rowan, students raised more than $13,000. Last year, they raised more than $17,000, well above their original $12,000 goal.
For information about St. Baldrick’s Day or to donate to the event, visit stbaldricks.org/events/rowan2013.