By Katelyn Weller and Erica Smith
The 100 Days ‘Til THON™ event succeeds the end of THON’s two-week long effort, the Dream Forward Campaign. The event took place in the HUB-Robeson Center on November 9th. Students and faculty worked tirelessly to raise over $1.26 million over the two-week period, but the support from the THON Community wasn’t only seen in the form of money.
One of the most admired and emotional segments of the celebration is the 100 Days ‘Til THON Hair Donation. For the past several years, THON Hair Donation has been partnering with Wigs for Kids, Inc. to collect the hair that is donated. Wigs for Kids, Inc. creates custom hairpieces for children that have lost their hair due to illnesses, such as cancer. Evolve Studio, located in downtown State College, provided hair cuts to the 11 participants this year.
Katherine Irving, a Hair Donation Captain for THON’s Special Events Committee, says, “To Penn State THON, hair donation is not only a generous tangible offer, but it also serves as a representation of strength and respect for the stories of children battling childhood cancer.”
“Hair donation helps cancer patients by empowering their self-confidence and making them feel supported. The impact of one’s hair donation is compelling as it restores dignity in cancer patients through something they once lost.”
In addition to the 100 Days ‘Til THON Hair Donation event, Irving will also work alongside her Co-Captain Leon Pelham Jr. to plan and execute the “No Hair Don’t Care” event and the Hair Donation that occurs on THON Weekend. The two THON Hair Donation captains are responsible for selecting hair donation applicants and ensuring that they are given the best experience possible. They work hard to build relationships with local stylists from salons in State College and organize the logistics necessary for them to volunteer at events. Additionally, they work as a primary contact for Wigs For Kids to provide them the donated hair.
This utmost act of selflessness can be scary for many. However, Ashley Sellars, a third-year student from Hershey, PA, was inspired by the event in the previous year and knew she wanted to participate this year. She stated, “I was particularly excited to be able to serve the emotional support aspect of THON’s mission in a very tangible way.”
“This event means giving a little piece of myself to try to help a child’s experience with cancer treatment be a bit more bearable. I think cancer gives kids a million reasons to feel like they’re different and they’re alone, but they’re not. I hope that receiving our hair donations gives them a reason to just feel like themselves.”
When asked to give advice to anyone who is thinking about participating next year, Sellars declared, “Do it, do it, do it! Any reservations you have will be resolved the minute you head out to the stage and see how many members of the THON community are cheering you on and are proud of your contribution. I promise you won’t miss the hair, and you will always cherish this experience and the knowledge that your hair will put a smile on the face of the child who receives it.”