WILMETTE – Emily Monick likes to donate her hair to help others. She’s done it now five times, most recently for a St. Baldrick’s head shaving campaign at Rush Childrens’ Hospital.
St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-powered charity that funds research to find cures for childhood cancers. The individual head-shaving events are entirely organized by volunteers.
This the first time Monick, a senior at Regina Dominican High School, has been a St. Baldrick’s “shavee,” but she has been donating her hair to different organizations since she was in first grade. What began as a little girl copying her older sisters grew over time into more meaningful ritual as Monick sought to help others.
Paying it forward is important to Monick, and so when she learned about St. Baldrick’s campaign through a family friend she knew she was ready to get serious. She raised over $4,200 for childhood cancer research.
Below, Monick explains why she keeps choosing to donate her hair:
Have you donated your hair to St. Baldrick’s before?
No, this was my first time participating in St. Baldrick’s. Though I have donated my hair in the past to Locks of Love, starting since I was around 6 years old and have donated my hair now a total of 5 times.
Why did you decide to donate your hair?
The first time I decided to donate my hair was because I saw my two older sisters donate theirs and very much so wanted to be a part of what they were doing. After that it just became a ritual of mine to donate my hair every few years -though, as I grew older the importance of donating hair began to sink in and my motivation changed from wanting to be like my big sisters to wanting to help others. It was not until much later that my baby cousin was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, which then also became a major motivation for me wanting not only continue donating my hair, but also join St. Baldrick’s.
Why did you choose St. Baldrick’s?
A friend of my family’s is a hairdresser and volunteered as a barber for one of the St. Baldrick’s events a couple years ago. After that I always thought St. Baldrick’s would be an amazing foundation to be a part of and have been patiently waiting until I thought I worked up the nerve to be a shavee and thought I could actually raise a fair amount of money as well.
How much was cut off and does your hair grow fast?
They cut it off from my ears, but from the top of my ears it was 18 inches. Yes, my hair grows exceedingly fast –its already grown in a lot since the event!
Where will your hair be donated?
There are multiple organizations the hair can be sent to, but St. Baldrick’s lets the shavee choose the organization. For myself I chose Pantene.
Were you nervous?
Yes and no. It’s strange, signing up for this event I knew I would be shaving my head, but it didn’t seem real until about a week before. I knew it was just hair and that it would grow back and that there was someone that would be much more deserving and appreciative of the hair that I would be donating. Yet, I began to think about what shaving my head would entail: I wouldn’t be able to style my hair anymore or run my hands through it like always or play with it when I was nervous. It wouldn’t feel the same, or look the same, and I was nervous to see what I would look like without hair. Soon after I learned that some of my closest friends were coming to support me, and all my nerves gradually disappeared. Simply knowing that I was going to have support let me be able to focus on the excitement I was feeling going into this. Though, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous the day of…actually the day of I wasn’t even nervous until they cut off all my hair. I remember a split second between having my hair cut off and right before the barber brought the razor to my head –it was a split realization of “oh my God…this is happening.”
Would you do it again?
Yes, I absolutely want to be a St. Baldrick’s shavee again. The entire experience was incredibly rewarding. I’ve always believed in the power of paying it forward, and through this experience I’ve really been able to see that motto in motion. Knowing that the money I’ve helped raise is going to pediatric cancer research that will eventually help future kids and families out is worth shaving my head over and over again. I’ve been able to learn so much about myself and others through this, and would highly suggest that if others even have a slight inclination to become a shavee they should just sign up it will be more than worth it.