In spite of COVID-19, Northwest’s St. Jude Up ’til Dawn held a hybrid version of its third annual Cut Loose fundraising event Feb. 18, altering the event from previous years. Members of the St. Jude Up ’til Dawn executive board, 28 hair donors and the donors’ sponsors joined a Zoom session where the donors got their hair cut. Participants then made their way to Bearcat Arena to get their hair touched up by professionals.
The hair collected from Cut Loose is sent to Children with Hair Loss in South Rockwood, Michigan, where the hair is processed and made into wigs for children and young adults with medically-related hair loss. In order to turn the hair into wigs, the hair must be at least eight inches in length.
Typically, the entirety of the Cut Loose event would be held in Bearcat Arena, which St. Jude Up ’til Dawn’s Side Events Chair Kelsey Scanlon said can get really loud with all of the women reacting to getting their hair cut.
“It’s kind of weird because it’s on Zoom, but I thought it went really well, and everyone was really excited about it, and I thought it turned out as best as it could with COVID,” Scanlon said.
Cut Loose participants and other donors raised more than $500 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through this year’s event. In order to participate, the person receiving the haircut and the sponsor who cuts their hair must have raised one dollar per inch of hair being cut off prior to the event.
Scanlon joined in on the event that she hosted and got eight inches of her hair cut off. She said that Cut Loose took her more than a year of planning. For her, the most difficult step in the planning process was making sure that women didn’t get their hair cut during Thanksgiving or Christmas break.
“You're giving away a little bit of confidence to give a child a lot of confidence,” Scanlon said with Children with Hair Loss in her mind.
Scanlon said that Children with Hair Loss provides children with more than 600 wigs per year.
Cut Loose participants who signed up for the event before Feb. 1 received a T-shirt when arriving at Bearcat Arena to get their hair cleaned up.
Northwest senior Micaila Lopez donated eight inches of her hair for the second time during the Cut Loose event this year. Her first time participating was in 2019, the first year the event was held.
“Honestly, as soon as I heard they were doing it, I signed up the minute I found the link,” Lopez said.
Lopez decided to cut her hair during the event because she said it was getting long and wanted to put her hair toward a good cause. She raised money through an Instagram post to participate in Cut Loose and donated a total of $25 to St. Jude this year.
Lopez remembered her first reaction to seeing her hair after it was trimmed.
“I was kind of in disbelief,” Lopez said. “I didn't really think it was even my hair just looking at all the ponytails.”
Participants tied their hair into even sections with ponytails to hold the strands together after they were trimmed off, and then they placed the hair into sandwich bags and into a tub with other hair donations at Bearcat Arena.
St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn Executive Director Emily Tudor, who is serving in her second year on the executive board, noted the thing she loves the most about St. Jude is its mission to help children with serious disease and that no child will be denied treatment based on the color of their skin, religion or a family’s ability to pay.
Tudor said Cut Loose is an event meant to help spread awareness, to raise money for a good cause and to bring attention to St. Jude’s mission.