HIGHLAND PARK – Nearly 20 local girls recently donated their hair and raised money for the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation, a local organization that supports gastrointestinal cancer research. The hair will be made into wigs for cancer patients.
Sixteen of girls donated at least eight and a half inches of hair on June 5 at Cut for the Cure, an event held at Blue Orchid Salon and Spa, while three others provided locks from earlier haircuts, said Lesley Kiferbaum, Eisenberg’s daughter. The oldest girl who donated was only 9 years old.
Cut for the Cure benefitted Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which supplies real-hair wigs to women who have hair loss from cancer treatments.
The Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation began in 1999, when Eisenberg passed away at age 53, just two weeks after he was diagnosed with liver cancer. In 1999, the foundation had its first dinner with about 75 people; this year more than 500 people attended the annual event.
Kiferbaum explained that the foundation has been focusing on gastrointestinal cancer at Northwestern University, and soon after started an associate board with people in their 20s and 30s.
Last year Kiferbaum founded a junior board comprising 20 to 25 children and teenagers between the ages of eight to 18, to raise awareness for gastrointestinal cancer research. The junior board planned Cut for the Cure, which raised more than $24,000.
“It was such an incredible day that was so emotional,” said Kiferbaum. “Some of the little girls had never had a major haircut before, while others have grown their hair out for over two years in order to be able to donate it.”
Kiferbaum was touched by the level of support exhibited by the girls and the hair stylists at Blue Orchid Salon and Spa.
“All of the girls were cheering each other on while they were getting their haircuts and supporting them,” she said. “It was children supporting children, gastrointestinal cancer research and cancer patients.”
Kiferbaum was thrilled that the junior board came out to help kids make beaded bracelets and necklaces to raise additional money at the Cut for the Cure event. The girls who donated hair were asked to write notes to people who were potentially getting a wig.
Kiferbaum has an eight-year-old daughter and three younger boys. Her daughter donated her hair last year to help someone in need, before Cut for the Cure even existed.
“The Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation helps us still remember our dad by honoring his legacy and memory and hopefully making significant changes in young people’s lives through real estate education and gastrointestinal cancer research,” she said.
Kiferbaum said her dad was a real estate developer who did a lot of work in Highland Park, and her family has lived here since she can remember. Her two brothers, Peter and Scott Eisenberg, as well as her mom, Shelia Eisenberg, founded the organization and continue to be very active.
“The most wonderful thing was that my dad’s family, friends and colleagues wanted to do something to remember my dad by,” she said. “Some of his colleagues are still part of the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation, and have devoted countless hours and energy into making the organization what it is today, and we hope it will continue for many generations.”
Kiferbaum has enjoyed working with her childhood friend Stephanie Fick, who helped organize the event and whose daughters are founding members of the junior board.
Fick explained that she and her daughters, Avery and Annie, became involved in the Eisenberg Foundation after a close friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“Both of my kids are starting to understand that many people lose their hair, so they decided to help raise money and donate hair for Cut for the Cure,” said Fick.
The friends’ children attend Braeside Elementary School in Highland Park together.
“My daughter Avery and Lesley’s daughter Sophie took it upon themselves to go from classroom to classroom to talk about the upcoming events: Shoot for the Cure and Cut for the Cure,” said Fick. “They’re gaining leadership skills and that’s great.”
Another fundraising effort, Shoot for the Cure, took place on April 30 at the Highwood Recreation Center. Fick’s daughters also participated in that event.
Fick explained that the junior board thinks of creative ways to get kids involved in raising money, and learning about the foundation.
“I think the best thing that we’re able to do is educate the kids about helping others, and this fall the Junior Board will meet with the doctors who are going to be doing the cancer research,” she said. “The kids can see where the money that they’ve raised will be put into action, and realize what a difference they’re making.”
For more information about the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation visit: eisenbergfoundation.org