May 14, 2014 - Eight students and two teachers from Clear Lake Elementary all got haircuts a couple weeks ago to donate to Wigs 4 Kids, a non-profit organization that reaches out to kids ages 3-18 who have suffered hair loss due to health issues such as cancer.
Front Row Left to Right: Sophia Sinacola, Maya Clemens, Sophie Allen Back Row Left to Right: Mrs. Trombly, Karsyn Malinich, Payton Diem, Kristina Myers, Jenna Hickey, Ivana Milosavlevski, and Mrs. Brennan. Photo by Trevor Keiser. (click for larger version)
The idea started when fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Trombly read a story written by a friend who had cancer.
"The story she put on Facebook was that her 3-year-old son took off her scarf (which was covering her head) and said 'Where did my Mommy go?' Since it kind of made me really upset, (I decided to do something about it,)" Trombly said. "Not that I could give her my hair, but I could give somebody my hair and then I could give them my daughter's hair too."
Girls from Trombly's class decided to take up the cause as well after witnessing their teacher measuring her hair.
"They started asking me a lot of questions and girls got interested in it," she noted.
In talking with fellow fourth-grade teacher Lisa Brennan, who also had long hair, they opened it up to her class, then entire fourth grade.
"Four or five years ago, I donated mine and so I shared that experience with my class and pictures with them and then they were like, 'This is so cool we want to jump on board,'" Brennan said. "I had a lot of girls . . . with longer hair that could do it."
Originally, they had talked about cutting it over the winter, but the date kept getting pushed back because Trombly was hoping her daughter, "who thinks she's Repunzel," would donate.
"Every time I asked her (to cut her hair) she started crying and throwing a fit, so I didn't think that and scissors would be a good idea," Trombly said. "It's just going to keep growing longer and I know eventually she is going to want to donate, too."
While all the girls wanted to donate for the reason "it's a good cause," many of them had personal reasons as to why they participated.
Karsyn Malinich, a second-grader from Jennifer Clemens' class, had her whole family go with her to get her hair cut. What made it really special was the presence of her grandma, who had cancer five years ago and lost her hair as a result of treatments.
"She got a big a hug and a picture with her grandma," explained Brennan.
"It made me feel happy," Malinich said.
Jenna Hickey said she originally did it because her mom wanted her to get her long hair cut, but she also wanted to do it because her mom had a friend who suffered from cancer.
"I was really nervous at first because my hair was going to be gone," Hickey said. "But I kept telling myself, 'You're doing this for a good reason and you're doing it for someone and you need to fight through it.'"
Unlike Hickey, when Payton Diem originally asked if she could cut her hair, her mom said "no," but after some persuasion from Payton she gave her the okay.
"She was very persistent for months and it paid off," Brennan said.
"I decided to donate my hair because when you do that, you feel really good," added Diem. "My neighbor once fought cancer where she had to wear this blanket over her head and I felt really bad about it, so I decided to donate my hair to help other people who do have cancer."
Because her hair was getting so long, Sophia Sinicola originally wanted to get it cut, so she didn't have to spend "hours and hours" brushing it. "Then I thought, 'Oh, I can donate it because a lot of people have cancer (and) they (lose their hair) from it," Sinicola said.
Sophie Allen from Melissa Peruski's class was on the fence. "I wasn't sure about it, so I kept going on and off about donating my hair," she said. "Then, finally I made up my mind, because I knew my hair would go to a good cause and help other people."
"I donated it because my friend's grandma has cancer and then my other friend's grandma has cancer," said Maya Clemens. "I wanted to donate for them because we're really close friends."
Ivana Milosavlevski first donated her when she was 4-years-old and she found out her grandmother had cancer. "I would see pictures of the back of her head and there would be patches (of hair) gone. It made me really sad," she said. "My mom said I could help her, so I cut off my hair five years ago."
With her grandma now gone, it's a tradition she plans to continue.
"It's been five years since she passed away, so I want to do it every five years," added Milosavlevski. "I cut my hair because I wanted it to go to people who were suffering like her and so they could feel pretty again."
With tear-filled eyes Kristina Myers was donating her hair in memory of her grandfather who passed away due to brain cancer.
"Growing out our hair to donate was such an emotional process for all of us," explained Trombly. "These girls are an inspiration to others around them . . . I hope they realize that and continue to make the world a better place as they grow."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.