By Annabel Weiner
Until September 2, 2010, Jamie Hibbs, a sophomore at Huron High School, had a full head of blonde, wavy hair. During the summer, Hibbs decided that she was going to shave her head to raise money for cancer research.
“Well I’ve donated my hair before to make wigs for children with cancer. So I’ve been looking online for organizations like that, and I found this one and I just was immediately inspired,” Hibbs said of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Hibbs said she was touched by personal stories from children with cancer that were posted on the website (www.stbaldricks.org)
The St. Baldricks organization has been around for 10 years and has raised over $87 million for cancer research. Volunteers shave their heads in solidarity with children who have cancer. In addition to paying a tribute to children with cancer, the money raised goes towards cancer research.
Instead of being disappointed that she was going to lose all of her hair, Hibbs was excited about this experience. “I mean I know it sounds extreme, but the whole process was really fun for me. So it was kind of a big adventure, and just the fact that I also got to raise a lot of money was a bonus,” said Hibbs.
The day Hibbs shaved her hair off was very exciting for her. She had a great time at the salon with her parents and a friend, and they documented the process with a series of wonderful photos. Hibbs was really excited to see what she would look like. For fun, before the stylist shaved all of her hair off, she wanted to see what having a mohawk would look like. Hibbs said that the mohawk was really fun to experience for a minute or two, but she decided to shave all of her hair off.
Hibbs has gotten a lot of positive support from her friends and teammates on her swim and field hockey team. “You know, most people are pretty impressed because it is something that they might not necessarily do,” Hibbs said.
Hibbs shaved her head a week before school started and was a little nervous to come to school with no hair. Hibbs said that a lot of people did not know why she had no hair. Some people wondered if she actually had cancer.
“I bet people [think I have cancer] all the time,” says Hibbs. “They give me little looks. I mean, I realize I may have been guilty of giving people that look, but they look at me and just smile a little bit and it’s like ‘oh God, no I don’t have cancer!’,” Hibbs said.
Although most of the feedback Hibbs received was positive, there was one incident where someone was not supportive. She said she just ignored it.
Last year Hibbs became friends with a girl on her water polo team who had cancer. “I didn’t really know her at the time when she was being treated. She is so strong and awesome and I’m really glad that things have been going well for her.” After Hibbs shaved her head, her friend told her that she reminded her of what she used to look like.
Hibbs understood that this was a hard topic to talk about with her friend. Hibbs also has a two-year -ld relative with cancer. Being friends and having a relative with cancer has made Hibbs realized that anyone could develop cancer at anytime. “You just need to try to do your best,” Hibbs said of giving back.
Hibbs’s father has a coworker who had breast cancer. After she found out that Hibbs was going to shave her head, she sent Hibbs a message that she describes as the nicest thing someone has said to her about her head. She said she was inspired by Hibbs. “She lost all of her hair herself. So I felt pretty humbled after hearing from her,” said Hibbs.
Hibbs has a goal of raising $5,000 but doesn’t have a deadline for her fundraiser. On her fundraising website, it shows she has raised about $2,300. She got the word out by posting an event on Facebook and sending out e-mails. She also invited people to come to the salon with her.
Hibbs has no regrets. “I’ve had those moments where I’d look in the mirror, I’m like ‘oh what have I done?’, but it will grow back. It’s already starting to grow back, and I’m still really happy with everything.”
Annabel Weiner is on staff with The Communicator, Community High School’s student print and online publication. This article was originally published in October. It is reprinted here with permission.