Tag Archives: hair donation

Happy Birthday Hailey!

How do you celebrate your Sweet Sixteen? If you are Hailey Gilbert, a rising junior at Londonderry High School in Londonderry, New Hampshire, you celebrate this landmark day by giving a piece of yourself.

“During both my freshman and sophomore years, the Pantene pep rally (at Londonderry High School each January) had me in tears. I promised myself I would give at least once in my high school career.”

“The day before my birthday I decided that I was going to be getting so much, why not give back? I had my best friends at my house for my birthday anyways and I had them and my sister cut my hair.”

Hailey smiling

Hailey is such an inspiration. It was her special birthday was on July 16th, and she gave the most priceless gift of all.

Londonderry High School – Eighth Annual Day of Giving!

By Steven Juster

Londonderry High School held its eighth annual Day of Giving event on Friday, January 10th, 2014. The feature event at this assembly is the Pantene Beautiful Lengths hair donation. This year, a record 234 students, with a few staff and parents in the mix, participated in the simultaneous cut.

BLE_Londonderry_NH1183

As student Rachel Larkin said to me, having seen her grandmother taken by cancer, she knew there were young girls at the hospital refusing treatment because they did not want to lose their hair. She and the other angels spent the morning taking that obstacle away.
Several students and alumni were participating for a second, third and fourth time. Often, alumni drop off their donations throughout the year, but many of them were able to be on the floor to cut in front of, and inspire, the full-school assembly, also open to parents and community members.

The cut itself is a spectacle to see, but it is the stories that the donor/angels tell me through the year, some of which I share that day, that brings out the humanity in the room.
Student Brittany Varney has never had her hair short – NEVER – long hair her entire life, yet there she was, on the floor.
BLE_Londonderry_NH1776
Student Anna Tighe said “Ever since I was little, ever since I was little, I’ve wanted REALLY long hair, and now my hair is the longest it has ever been.” She was there on the floor this morning because, again in her words, “I can help one person.”
BLE_Londonderry_NH0023
Student Tianna Federico loves her long hair and donated as a sophomore so her hair would be long for her prom this year, but there she was, “I am able to go to the prom, “ she said, “while there are girls sitting in hospitals with no hair and IVs in their arms.” Tianna is 18 weeks from her prom, but donated.

Rebecca Solomons, a student at the town kindergarten (Moose Hill) was on the floor. This was Rebecca’s first haircut. She wanted to cut it with her sister,senior Hannah Solomons, who also donated.

Student Tori Ackley is the only person who actually physically shuddered handing me her form. She has attempted in years past to donate. I have handed the form back to her, told her to really think about this. The last time we talked tears welled in her eyes, but she smiled her wonderful smile, and handed me her paperwork.

I am blessed to be in a position where I encounter young people who see past their own interests to do the greater good. No wonder I call them angels.
BLE_Londonderry_NH2760
A special feature this year was Class of 2013 alum Myranda Brodsky, who had pledged to donate all of her hair as part of a fund-raising campaign for the American Cancer Society . She was able to present a check to them for $5,600. She chose to donate at LHS because she said she wanted to be among all these young women giving such a wonderful gift, and that it felt like “home”. We were honored to be spectators as she had her hair clippered close, to begin the next step of her journey, which is to raise awareness and support for breast cancer research. She hopes her grand gesture will bring about grand change.

This event would not happen without our team of professional stylists, who volunteer, many year after year, giving of their time to donate to making our angels beautiful, with a lot of skill and a lot of TLC. This year we had 23 stylists attend from area salons.
BLE_Londonderry_NH1859In 2011, we lost our angel, then sophomore Rebecca Tenney, suddenly to meningitis in September. She had already donated once, and had signed up to donate again that next year. After discussions about keeping an empty chair open for her, her friends filled it by donating in her place. Since then, someone, a friend or family member, has been here to fill her seat. This year, three of parents’ (Mark and Tammy) nieces came from Massachusetts to fill her seat. Her parents also attended.

Lastly, before the cut, three students stepped forward:
Meredith Byerly was there in honor of her grandmother, who died of ovarian cancer the day she was born. As she was dying, she had her health care worker put an X on the calendar to mark Meredith’s impending birth date. As Meredith said, “she really wanted to meet me”. But there is more. Her grandmother was a twin, and her twin sister came to Meredith’s important events, though she lived miles away, to make her feel loved. She also passed away from cancer, and Meredith knew it was time to give back.
BLE_Londonderry_NH1235
Amina Dallahi, a nine year old whose brother attends the high school, was born with Downs Syndrome. She was diagnosed with leukemia when she was four years old, and from 4 to 6 underwent the transfusions and chemo and lost all her hair. She is a survivor, healthy, and now that her hair has grown to beautiful lengths, she came over from the elementary school to donate.

Senior Maddy Gerlisch came forward with Terri, a local worker at the Dunkin Donuts/ country store whom everyone in town knows. Terri is a cancer survivor who lost all her hair. Maddy works with her. Maddy called Terri, “my second mother,” and talked about how she “could not imagine her life without her.” Maddy cut in her honor.

Following an inspirational song, the cut occurred: family, friends and survivors cutting long ponytails, tears and smiles and hugs all around. Though snowing and cold outside, it was a beautiful morning at Londonderry High School, Londonderry, New Hampshire.

I Chopped and Donated 12 Inches of Hair

By Maria Wen Adcock

I’ve always had fast growing hair, to the tune of a half inch of growth or more per month. Recently I chopped and donated 12 inches of hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, a program that uses real hair to make wigs for women who have lost their hair to cancer. It was the first time that I have donated to this organization, and I liked that fact that with Pantene Beautiful Lengths all donated hair is used for wigs rather than selling some of it for cash.

Those who want to make a donation can get their hair cut at any salon and simply mail in their hair. I found a highly-recommended hair stylist named Stana who cuts hair out of her home. I told her about my plans to donate to the program, and she was game with taking before and after pictures.

My hair had gotten to the length where it was just in my way. Between raising a young child and working, getting my haircut got lost between the busyness of every day life. Plus I knew I wanted to grow out my hair long enough to eventually donate and have someone wear a wig of a longer-than-usual length (minimum donation length is 8 inches required). I asked Stana to give me a bob-style haircut, and with that in mind the length of my hair she cut off was one foot.

IMG_0229 IMG_0243Looking at these before and after pictures really makes me realize how long my hair was. With shorter hair, my head literally feels lighter and washing and combing through my hair takes half the time it use to. My new cut is easy to take care of and more styled versus just hanging down aimlessly.

It’s good to know that my hair that otherwise would have been thrown away can be put to good use. I encourage everyone to donate if they can. Make sure to read the directions on the Pantene Beautiful Lengths site for requirements.

Dr. Jennifer Guerriero’s 2nd Beautiful Lengths Donation

Dr. Jennifer Guerriero is a fourth year postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and she works in the research laboratory at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Her research involves harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight breast cancer, and Dr. Guerriero has received the prestigious National Institute of Health Research Service Award for her work in the field.

Recently Jennifer donated her hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths for the second time! She first donated to Beautiful Lengths in 2011 and looks forward to donating again in the near future!

Jennifer Guerriero 2 Jennifer Guerriero 3 Jennifer Guerriero 1

Meteorologist Stephanie Ortmann Makes The Cut!

Stephanie Ortmann works as a meteorologist at the NBC affiliate (KOAA-TV) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Now TV anchors are known for their consistent looks, but Stephanie isn’t one of those typical TV personalities.

Not many would think that a hairstyle is a way to champion a cause, but back in 2011, Stephanie decided to chop off her hair, altering her on-air appearance in the name of giving back to women affected by the sad reality of hair loss due to the effects of chemotherapy. Inspired and supported by friends, viewers, and family, Stephanie chose to donate her hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Stephanie donated a whopping 9 inches of hair for her first donation!

Stephanie Ortmann Makes The Cut – WATCH HERE

Fast forward a couple years later and Stephanie is ready to go for it again! “After donating for the first time a few years ago, I thought about how lucky I am to be healthy enough to grow out my hair,” said Stephanie. “To be able to gift my hair to someone who needs it made the cut more special. So I decided while my hair was still short that I would donate again once my hair got long enough.”

And that time arrived in December of 2013. Stephanie donated 9 inches of her long blonde locks once again to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

“It’s such a great feeling to be able to give back to others by doing something so simple,” she said after going nine inches shorter. “For me, it’s not about how I look with long hair or short hair. I’m just happy to be a part of something bigger and hope that sharing my story on-air to my viewers will help inspire others to give back as well.”

Donation - Stephanie

Stephanie plans on donating again once her hair is long enough.

Nuala’s Kind Donation To Pantene Beautiful Lengths!

As a three-year old, Nuala already has the wonderful ability to think about and care for others. She recently donated her ponytail to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, and says that she hopes that  her hair can go to a girl who has been sick and that it will make her feel better about herself.

Thank you, Nuala for your incredibly kind donation to Pantene Beautiful Lengths!

Londonderry High School Hosts 6th Annual Cutting Event

Emily Georgakopoulos held her hair up in her mirror at home, visualizing the new length on herself “a million times.” The sixteen year old was not encouraged by what she saw -  as a girl whose very long hair fell over her shoulder blades, She could not imagine it being cut above her shoulders.

But on January 6, 2012, she sat on the gym floor at Londonderry High School, along with 231 other donors, to cut her hair in a simultaneous donation to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

2012 marked the sixth year holding our annual cutting event on a January morning at the high school. Formerly a part of the winter sports pep rally, the numbers have grown so large, that it is now a separate “Day of Giving” assembly. The assembly is attended by the 1700 students at this New Hampshire high school, and hundreds of family, friends and community members.

The cut is a moment, the end of a journey that is years in the making. With 232 students,  staff and alumni being cut all at once, it seems like a spectacle, and it is a sight to behold, but for every cut there is a story that can be told, some sad, some humorous, a reason that brought that individual to the gym floor.

These are the angels of Londonderry High School. It is an honor, with the support of the administration and faculty, to organize this opportunity for them to give.

Each angel received an “I pledged” t- shirt when they signed up, with the date of the event written on it. Long after that shirt has worn thin, they will still forever be one of our angels. The smile I see on each donor’s face after the cut never completely leaves their face.

This year, Governor John Lynch attended the event as our honored guest. He mingled with the donor/angels, and said a few words during the ceremony. It was a wonderful verification of our event to have him there. A few weeks later, he invited a few of the angels to attend his State of the State Address, and mentioned the event in his address as “the best of New Hampshire”.

This year was also special as we exceeded one thousand total donors. As part of a promise I made to her when we reached one thousand, I invited our very first donor, Ellyse Davis, to attend and see what she helped to begin. It was wonderful to have her there.

Also in attendance were Stephen Davis and his daughter Janet and her young family. Stephen’s wife, Ginger, was a teacher at the school, who lost her long battle with cancer last year. She had called out the “3-2-1 cut!” our very first year, the call that started it all. We presented Stephen with a large photo of Ginger calling out the cut, and making the call has now become an honor. This year, senior Kirsten Malloy, who donated three years in a row to honor her late mother, and has inspired so many to give, made the call.

Several state executives from the American Cancer Society were also in attendance. It is such an honor to have them there, to recognize their efforts with counseling and distribution of the wigs. I like to think of the angels donating as one end of the rainbow, and the ACS folks distributing the wigs as the other end of that rainbow, with the Hair U Wear folks and the support from Pantene all part of the rainbow’s sparkling arc.

Twenty-five local hair stylists also gave up their morning to be here and provide their expertise and TLC. The day would not be possible without them. Our wrestling room, transformed overnight by our custodial staff and Amy Fliger, a senior planning to attend cosmetology school, becomes the most beautiful salon in America for a few brief hours. All the clients are angels.

One humorous story told on the floor involved teachers Bridget and Lindsey. Friends since they were young, Bridget and Lindsey’s cut each other’s hair during a sleepover in tenth grade, and Lindsey’s hair was very short afterward, much shorter than expected. The next day, Lindsey’s boyfriend broke up with her. Lindsey stopped talking to Bridget for weeks. Well, to make a long story short, years later Lindsey ended up marrying that guy who broke up with her. Now, on the gym floor this morning, they were once again cutting each other’s hair. We all wondered, would the marriage survive another Bridget haircut? (It did).

As always, there are stories of loss, and strength beyond understanding. I sometimes read through the stories the donors write for me, and I recall the Dickens’ line, when Scrooge sees in his dream that the Cratchit family has lost Tiny Tim – “How does one endure it?”

Senior Valerie Lacasse donated this year as a senior for the second time in her high school career. She and her older sister Katie have donated multiple times. Katie first donated as a support for her mom, who had brain cancer. Her mother passed away, but only a week later, at the 2010 event, Valerie donated to honor her mother. They were on the floor again this morning, Katie wielding the scissors, Valerie donating her beautiful lengths, that in a few months would have been a prom updo, to put a smile on the face of someone else’s mother, who receives a perfectly color-matched real-hair wig, and doesn’t have to see the illness in the mirror, and as one woman told me, people no longer look at you with a “so sorry” pout and hold  doors for you, no matter how far away you are.

Emily. Valerie. Lindsey. Ellyse. Bridget.  Two hundred thirty two individuals, with so many students and family and community members ( what we refer to as “Lancer Nation”) supporting their efforts in so many ways. Photos capture the smiles, the sadness, the emotion as Lancer Nation gives of itself.

I saw Emily yesterday and asked if she liked her length. She smiled an “I don’t know if I should say this” smile, and said no. Now seven weeks out, it had grown enough that she was going for a trim, to shorten her bangs and style it differently. Did she regret making the cut?

Not at all. Not a bit.

No wonder we call them angels.

Year seven. 1/11/13.

________________________________________________________________________________

This moving story was written by Steve Juster, an English teacher at Londonderry High School

All photos were provided by The Lancer Spirit newspaper staff

Do you have a story you want to share? Please e-mail us at beautifullengthswigs@devries-pr.com