Donate

It's not too late to donate directly to the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Go to http://stbaldricks.org/events/mypage/986/2012/ to donate to the CU event.

 

A crowd gathered around a tent at the University Memorial Center fountains on Wednesday to watch people get haircuts.

The crowd cheered when University of Colorado sophomore Naina Rangnekar sat down in a chair, facing the crowd. Rangnekar has big eyes, olive skin and beautiful dark hair that goes past her shoulders — and she cut all of it off.

As the electric razor buzzed her to near-total baldness and big locks of her hair were passed around the crowd, one of her Chi Omega sorority sisters in the crowd yelled, "Naina why are you still so hot?!"

"Why am I doing this right now," she replied, laughing. "Hashtag reality check!"

Naina was one of more than 100 who gained a crew cut on Wednesday during the St. Baldrick's Foundation Fundraiser, an event that has been taking place since 2005 on the CU campus. The St. Baldrick's foundation is the largest private provider of money for childhood cancer research. Event participants raise money for childhood cancer research and then shave their heads in solidarity with children who have cancer.

This year, 123 people shaved their heads and raised more than $16,000 for childhood cancer research.

The event on the Boulder campus is organized by the CU Herd.

"The idea is, if children are forced into losing their hair, then we should stand with them and do it voluntarily," said Herd President Evan Williams. He said that about 150 people usually shave their heads, but only 10 or so are women. Last year the event raised about $20,000; Williams remembers a year when an individual, a blond sorority woman, raised $8,000.

For participants, the reasons to shave one's head are numerous. It helps raise money, spread awareness and shows support, but this isn't Locks of Love — the hair gets tossed out. "There is not any good way to donate it or do anything with it," Williams said.

CU freshman Addison Baker did it because he is in Airforce ROTC, and a group of them do it every year, he said. This year, about 30 of them shaved their heads, raising more than $450.

CU sophomore Guy Albert said he participated because it is a good cause and he is getting ready to go to India.

"It's going to be 120 Fahrenheit," said Albert. "So it'll benefit me, and it will benefit them, so it's a win-win.

"My friends are telling me not to do it. They say I'm going to look really weird bald, but I don't mind."

Albert is not the only one shaving his head despite what others may think.

"My parents know, but they are very traditional," said CU freshman Joyce Ling. "I don't know if they're super supportive of it, but they've accepted it."

Ling was inspired to do it by a friend who did it last year. Ling said that many kids are forced to shave their heads, and it is valuable for other people to choose to shave their heads and reduce the stigma that goes along with being young and bald.

"It's just cool to be able to do something radical. It shouldn't be like a stigmatizing thing. It should just be a normal thing."

Rangnekar, who raised $780, said her friends and family were supportive, but her boyfriend tried to convince her not to do it at the last minute. "As he was stroking my hair, he was like, 'I'll buy you a dog,'" she said.

"Yeah, he tried to bribe me with a dog."

Her boyfriend ended up shaving his head with her.

Rangnekar shaved her head as part of a New-Year's Resolution that was inspired by the event. "My New Year's resolution was to find myself," she said. "A lot of things about image don't really matter in this world — hair clothes. It doesn't change who you are. I wanted to show everyone that. My hair doesn't define me."

Contact Jake Kincaid at jacob.kincaid@colorado.edu.