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Student shaves to aid research

Emily Schrank | Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When sophomore Colleen Coley’s uncle was diagnosed with cancer, she wanted to do something special to show her support. 

During Spring Break, Coley, a native of Greenwood, Ind., shaved her head at an event sponsored by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, an organization that raises money for childhood cancer research.

“I’m not graduating or getting married and I don’t have anything major coming up in my life,” she said. “It’s a really good cause and my hair was more than long enough, so I just decided to go for it.”

St. Baldrick’s has raised more than $74 million since the organization was founded in 2000. More than 130,000 volunteers, including nearly 10,000 women, have shaved their heads in that time.

Coley said 75 percent of the money St. Baldrick’s collects goes directly to research.
“I’m planning on going into nursing once I graduate, so this is a cause that I’m really passionate about,” she said.

Coley quickly surpassed her initial goal of raising $1,000.  As of Monday, she had received $1,384 from family and friends.

“In the United States, more children die of cancer than any other disease,” she said. “And the money that I have raised is critical in reversing that trend.”

Coley’s biggest reason for shaving her head was to be in solidarity with her uncle and others who have lost their hair undergoing cancer treatment. 

“No one should have to go through cancer, especially kids,” she said. “And losing your hair is just adding insult to injury.”

Coley said both friends and family were supportive of what she was doing.

“I met another girl who was a freshman in college and we kind of bonded over the fact that we were both college students shaving our heads,” she said. “It was a really cool experience for me.”

While no one has said anything to her about her recently shaved head, Coley said she has gotten a lot of stares.

“There was a moment where I kind of freaked out when they put the ponytail in my hand,” she said.  “But after that, there was no looking back.”

Coley said she feels good about shaving her head and has absolutely no regrets.
“I try not to think about it too much,” she said.  “It’s just hair — it will grow back.”