Valerie Haigh has been growing her hair for the past 12 years.
In a matter of seconds on Friday it all lay on the Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute gymnasium floor, chopped off and shaved in a four-month fundraising effort that collected more than $6,000 for the Northern Cancer Fund.
It’s something the head custodian at the south-side school has wanted to do for about eight years, after her sister did something similar following the death of their mother and aunt from the disease.
Haigh, whose husband Randy surprised students at the school by also getting his head shaved, encouraging them to dig deep into their pockets before the clippers whirred into action.
“I thought, well, it’s my turn. It’s my bucket list. Honestly, it’s my chance to do it, and I can do it, whereas my aunt and my mom didn’t have the choice when it came to breast cancer. They lost their hair,” Haigh said.
She added she thinks it’s the most beautiful gift anyone could give.
Not only did she raise money, but her hair won’t go to waste either.
“My hair is being donated to Angel Hair, and my hair is going to be made into wigs for children under the age of 15.”
Haigh said she couldn’t believe the Tiger pride that was evident throughout her campaign, culminating with a chanting, roaring teenaged crowd that filled the gym Friday.
“You could just see it building in the days leading up, and asking me questions,” Haigh said. “I said, ‘Absolutely, I’m going to be walking around her bald.’ The support has been amazing. And the community, they’ve come out of everywhere to support me.”
Lindsay Kerr, special events officer at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation, said efforts like Haigh and her husband’s show how committed people in the community are to finding a cure for cancer and making the lives of those who suffer from the disease more bearable.
“One hundred per cent of the proceeds raised will stay right here in Northwestern Ontario to help support the exceptional cancer care at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, as well as Regional Cancer Care Northwest,” Kerr said.
“This will directly support any of our programs, from breast cancer awareness, diagnosis and treatment. So it’s a really great area where we’re pretty thankful for all of Val’s support.”
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