Oak Knoll Students Donate Hair at Local Salon
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 • 12:00am
Seven Upper School students donated their hair to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program on October 13 at a local salon in Summit.
The students and Physical Education teacher Rachel Lasda donated at least 8 inches of hair which will be made into wigs for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Beautiful Lengths is a partnership between Pantene and the American Cancer Society started in 2006. So far, Pantene has donated 24,000 free real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig banks, which distribute wigs to cancer patients across the country.
"Unfortunately cancer is a part of everyone’s lives these days, especially breast cancer," Ms. Lasda said. "The American Cancer Society says 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life. That statistic floored me. Out of all the girls and women here at Oak Knoll, that is a large percentage."
Lasda, whose own grandmother died from breast cancer in 2010, said she has donated hair several times but thought inviting Oak Knoll students to join her this year would be a meaningful way to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
"It is crazy how something most of us take for granted can be such a beautiful gift for someone going through one of the most difficult times in her life," Ms. Lasda said.
Ms. Lasda and her students went on a Saturday afternoon to Hair Salon on Springfield Avenue in Summit to donate their locks.
Eighth grader Elizabeth Sweetra said she decided to donate her hair because not only did she need a haircut, she said she hopes someone would donate their hair for her if she ever lost it due to chemotherapy.
"I wanted to donate it because I really wanted to be able to give some other girl the gift to have hair again," she said.
Elizabeth said what is surprising is how short 8 inches really is. After seeing how much hair would be left, she decided to donate 10.
Classmate Mary Mallany '15 said that the reality is hair is something that people use to express themselves, and having beautiful hair is a huge moral booster. While donating hair to be made into a wig won't give a cancer patient their real hair back, it will help them not feel the loss of their own hair as much.
"Donating my hair was an amazing experience," Mary said. "It felt so freeing and gratifying to feel the weight of my hair leave my shoulders. I know that it may be a while until my hair grows back, but honestly it's worth it. The most important thing to me was that I knew that someone would hopefully gain a bit of happiness from it."
Classmates Jackie Palmeri '15, Allie Martinez '14, Tristana Bhulai '13, and Olivia O’Loughlin '14 also donated hair to Beautiful Lengths.
"I am really very proud of these girls for deciding to donate," Ms. Lasda said.
Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child is an independent Catholic school enrolling boys and girls in kindergarten through grade six; and young women only in grades seven through 12. For more information about Oak Knoll, please visit www.oakknoll.org or call 908-522-8109.