BOWLING GREEN — When a hair stylist turned to retrieve an electric razor to remove the remaining stubble from her freshly shorn head, Lana Adams took the moment to rub her scalp and broke out into a big smile.
“I’ve wanted to shave my head for a long time,” the Bowling Green State University freshman from Clyde, Ohio, said, explaining that her older sister had done the same thing as a college freshman.
Miss Adams was among more than 125 people — many of them, but not all, BGSU students — who took their turns Sunday on stools set up in the university’s Bowen-Thompson Student Union to take a symbolic stand on behalf of child cancer patients whose hair typically falls out as a side effect of chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Many either donated cash themselves or raised money from others to support the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity that raises money for childhood cancer research, but Brett Lippian, a freshman from the Cleveland suburb of Peninsula, Ohio, said all he had to give was his hair.
“It’s a great event, and this was the least I could do — I don’t have a lot of money to donate. [Child cancer patients’] hair means a lot more to them than mine does to me,” said Mr. Lippian, who also volunteered at the event. “This is a totally different look for me. It feels weird, but it feels good.”
Hair-cutting services were donated to the cause by Honeycomb Salon and Spa, 725 Haskins Rd., and Ambrosia Salon, 1215 Ridgewood Dr., both in the Bowling Green area. Numerous other local businesses supported the event in various ways, including by providing T-shirts for staff and participants.
“Everybody knows somebody who has been affected by cancer,” said Amber Krupp, the owner of Ambrosia Salon, which worked the second half of the nine-hour haircut-a-thon. “It’s a great cause, and it’s great to be here.” A student dance troupe, musicians, and other entertainers performed throughout the day.
Event leaders initially hoped to raise $15,000, but organizer Steve Syoen said that pledges matching that mark had been reached by early last week, and by 10 a.m. Sunday the tally passed $20,000. When the event ended Sunday evening and numbers were tallied, there were 152 participants whose heads were shaved; 33 ponytails were cut for Locks of Love (some of those participants later shaved their heads), and just more than $22,408 was raised.
“I never imagined that in the first year, our event could go so big,” said Mr. Syoen, a BGSU residence hall director. “I’m extremely proud of what the university and the students have done here.”
Emily Simon, a senior from Monclova Townshnip, was among those who opted not to go for a complete shave but donated a substantial amount of hair to Locks of Love, a charity that uses the donations to make wigs for cancer patients.
She explained that along with her mother’s plea that she not shave her head, doing so might have been “kind of blunt” for the kindergartners she student-teaches. But her waist-length hair, uncut since the eighth grade, became shoulder-length on Sunday — following in the footsteps of a sister who donated hair five years ago.
“It’s great to get the word out, and support the cause,” Miss Simon said. “Donating hair helps create wigs, which is as important as shaving.”
Many on the stage were cheered on by spectators who watched and took pictures or made videos of their friends — and sometimes cracked wise at their expense.
Sheri Klatt of the Columbus suburb of Hilliard said her mother had threatened to take her car away if she got her own head shaved, but had donated money on behalf of Molly Fessel, also of Hilliard, whose midback-length hair all came off for the cause.
“I’m nervous, but really excited to be doing this. I’ve never done anything like this,” Miss Fessel said, clutching a lock of her blonde hair.
Two campus police officers were among the elders who got their heads shaved, and Shelley Horine of Perrysburg and Rossford resident William Pollock said they had also raised money for St. Baldrick’s among their colleagues.
“I did it for the kids — only 4 percent of cancer research is for children’s cancer,” said Officer Horine, who showed up in uniform.
Officer Pollock, who came in street clothes, said a friend’s brother had succumbed to cancer at age 17.
“It’s going to be a little chilly when we walk outside,” he said. “Thank God it’s warm today.”
While many other participants said they didn’t know any child cancer patients, Whitney Gasper said her best friend’s sister had died of cancer, after which that entire family had shaved their heads to support cancer research.
Still, the BGSU freshman from Ansonia, Ohio, said she at first had been too scared of what she might look like bald, and went to the student union only to provide moral support for Miss Adams.
But after Miss Adams’ shave was finished, Miss Gasper walked over to the sign-up table to schedule her own appointment with the hair cutters.
“Seeing this was just the final push. I gotta do it,” she said before adding, “I need to go get some hats.”
While proud of what she had done, Miss Adams nonetheless had to wipe a few tears away while the last of her hair fell to the floor.
Hair, she explained, is “just a woman’s identity. But when people have cancer, they don’t have a choice.”