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Students participate in the Bald and the Beautiful

| Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Notre Dame’s campus hosts an abundance of fundraisers over the course of the academic year — the Bald and the Beautiful may be one of the most well-known of these fundraisers. This annual, three-day event involves participants shaving their heads in solidarity with cancer patients, donating hair or getting colorful hair extensions in support of those with cancer.

Participants decide to donate or shave off their hair for various reasons — some have family members affected by cancer, have been donating hair all of their lives or simply feel compelled to support the cause.

Sophomore Sara Berumen said she decided to donate hair because her mother had breast cancer while she was in high school.

“I had always wanted to donate, but there was never a well-trusted organization in my city,” Berumen, who donated a foot of hair, said.

Sophomore Veronica Perez donated two feet of hair last year and additionally shaved her head for the fundraiser. She was inspired by other women on her Ultimate Frisbee team, who had done the same the year before.

“I had donated my hair several times before — to make wigs for cancer patients — but never shaved my head entirely,” Perez said.

However, many women that decide to shave their heads are not met with full support in their communities or families, and Perez faced similar pushback when she made the decision to shave her head.

“In Guam, women really value their hair — it’s a huge part of beauty in Asian and Pacific Island culture,” she said. “My parents kept saying, ‘Your hair is so beautiful’ and ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ up until the day I shaved my head. But I didn’t feel an attachment to my hair like they did.”

Despite some adversity, Perez said she does not regret her decision — and while many people consider shaving her head to be a bold move, she said she disagrees.

“I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. My hair can be used for better things,” Perez said. “And I can grow it back, no problem.”

Perez raised around $1600 for the fundraiser last year. Money raised by the event are split between St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which is a national organization that funds pediatric cancer research, and the Pediatric Cancer wing of Beacon Children’s Hospital in South Bend. The event raised over $20,000 last year, and is hoping to reach $25,000 in donations this year, Perez said.

“Personally, I don’t think donating my hair made a huge impact on the cancer fight — one foot of hair isn’t going to change the world,” Berumen said. “But on the whole, the event really does make a change because it raises awareness, and money — not just hair — is donated as a result.”

Perez said participating in the event is well-worth it.

“Some people definitely look at you strangely when you have a shaved head, but I didn’t really care,” Perez said. “The people who shave their heads don’t care about other people’s opinions. Their whole mindset is into it.”

And now that she has short hair, Perez intends to keep it.

“The only reason I would ever grow my hair out again is because I’m too lazy to get haircuts every month,” Perez said. “Having short hair is really pretty convenient.”

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About Kara Miecznikowski

Kara Miecznikowski is a Notre Dame senior majoring in biological sciences with a minor in journalism. Originally from Chesterton, Indiana, she currently lives in Howard Hall.

Contact Kara