Piedmont High students join the fight against cancer

Piedmont High School teacher Samantha Quinn donated her ponytail to Locks of Love as part of a school-wide cancer awareness initiative.

MONROE – Piedmont High School students are going bald for a day to stand up to cancer.

On Friday, Nov. 2, hundreds of students throughout the school will cover up their locks with a bald cap to spread cancer awareness and raise money for children fighting the disease.

The idea was born when art teacher Tracy Price stumbled upon the Be Bold, Be Bald! initiative earlier this year. The cancer fundraiser, now in its fourth year, benefits numerous cancer centers and related organizations across the U.S.

“We have students that have connections with family members who have had cancer. Some of our colleagues’ parents have struggled with cancer,” Price said. “I thought, ‘How cool would it be to participate in this.’ It’s a very doable project, and I felt like the student body would be interested in participating.”

The school ordered 150 bald caps and began selling them to students for $7. The caps quickly sold out, so the school ordered an additional 150 caps and continued to sell them this week.

Money raised from the bald cap sales will benefit the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte. Students can write on the caps the names of people they know who have fought or are fighting cancer, or those who have lost their battle with the disease.

The students are encouraged to hold on to the caps after Friday’s event and pull them back out in the spring when the school celebrates “Care Week,” another endeavor aimed at raising cancer awareness among students and the community.

Price said most of the students who have purchased the caps know someone who has been affected by cancer in some way.

“Unfortunately, students who participate are doing it for people they know who have struggled with cancer,” Price said. “Kids are participating who are driven because they know somebody in need.”

One of those students is senior Marissa Counts. Marissa lost an uncle to leukemia when she was 4 years old. Although she doesn’t remember a lot about that time in her life, the memories she has have driven her to get involved.

“I only remember my uncle being bald for my whole life,” she said.

Marissa, who serves as vice president of the school’s National Art Honor Society and president of the Future Business Leaders of America club, is working to spread the word about Be Bold, Be Bald! to students throughout the school because she realizes how prevalent cancer is among people in the community.

“I thought (Be Bold, Be Bald!) was an amazing idea and cause,” she said. “We all know someone affected (by cancer). We’ve recently seen a lot of children affected by it, lots of kids, and they’re an important part of the community.”

Marissa said students are advertising the event through a series of promotional videos that air during the school’s morning announcements. The videos present a lot of facts about the number of people affected by cancer and how many cancer-related deaths occur each year.

“They’re kind of emotional, but that’s what affects people,” she said.

In addition to Be Bold, Be Bald!, the school held a Locks of Love event Thursday, Nov. 1. A parents who is a professional hairdresser visited the school’s art room that morning, offering her time and skills to cut students’ hair, which they’ll donate to Locks of Love.

Price said some of the male students have vowed to shave their heads bald to spread awareness, and one male teacher told his students if 100 percent of the class participates in Be Bold, Be Bald!, he’d shave his own head.

The school hasn’t set a goal for the amount of money they’d like to raise, Price said. Instead, they’re focusing on the core values and messages the event is meant to convey.

“We’re not trying to raise ‘X’ amount of dollars,” Price said. “What we’re focusing on this year is really awareness.”

Because the project is student-led and organized, Price said she’s proud of everything the kids are accomplishing through the event.

“The kids have taken over. The kids have taken charge. It’s a student-driven project,” she said. “Members of clubs have taken bald caps with them to sell them at their club meetings. They’re making posters and videos. That’s what I think is the greatest thing about a service project – for the kids to take charge of it.”

Marissa said she’s looking forward to participating in the event and playing a role in the community-wide fight against cancer.

“It’s just important to show your support,” she said. “It makes me want to show support to the ones that are going through (a battle with cancer) now. We could never possibly understand what all they’re going through, but just by wearing (the caps) we’re saying, ‘We’re here and we see you and we support you.’”

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