“Words are cheap, actions speak.”
These were the words spoken by Rebecca Pahoresky’s (`19) favorite junior high teacher who ultimately inspired her to take action against childhood cancer in a drastic way. On the first day of summer vacation, this sophomore will shave her head in an effort to raise awareness for the disease. Between now and then, Pahoresky is raising money to donate to cancer research.
BEHIND THE BALD CHOICE
Pahoresky initially wished to do this when she was in grade school after being assigned to complete a service project. However, after discussing the matter with her parents, they did not think it would be in her best interest to shave her head at her young age. Looking back, Pahoresky is glad she followed her parents’ advice. She thinks handling the peer pressure in middle school may have been difficult. She still wanted to help people with cancer so she chose to raise money that year to put toward blood cancer research.
BACK TO THE BALD IDEA
As a current sophomore at Gilmour, Pahoresky revisited the idea of shaving her head a few weeks ago. She now feels ready to actually do it. Pahoresky discussed it with her parents, and they both agreed that as long as it was what she wanted, she had their full support. Pahoresky discovered St. Baldrick’s fundraising efforts. She visited the site and registered to become a shavee.
Pahoresky said, “I didn’t want to second guess myself, so the next morning I signed up! A lot of people say they can shave their heads for cancer, but I’m actually doing it, and that’s pretty cool.”
ST. BALDRICK’S: THE MISSION
In the past, Pahoresky has donated her hair to Locks of Love, an organization that accepts donations of hair that are ultimately made into wigs for children suffering from cancer. However, for her head shaving, Pahoresky will be going to St. Baldrick’s on June 1, 2017; the very first day of summer vacation for Gilmour students. St. Baldrick’s is a foundation dedicated to raising awareness of childhood cancer by shaving the heads of volunteers. Victims of cancer often lose their hair, so when volunteers choose to be bald, it brings attention to the ever-growing issue of cancer. St. Baldrick’s biggest fundraiser occurs annually on Saint Patrick’s Day, in which the organization shaves the heads of many volunteers.
BALD IS BEAUTIFUL
Pahoresky is aware that struggles and challenges may accompany her decision. For example, when Pahoresky originally shared her decision with her friends, some attempted to discourage her and said she would look bad without hair. Despite their remarks, she said, “I really want to do this for the kids. It means a lot to me to help in this way. I want to do this at least once in my life, and I know this is a good time.” Although Pahoresky suspects that she will be in shock at first (“I have never been bald before, except for when I was a baby!”), she is determined to follow through with her commitment.
She said, “I also think shaving my head is liberating in a way. In my mind, ever since we were young, girls were taught that long hair is beautiful. In Disney movies, all of the princesses have long, beautiful hair. I want to raise money for cancer and show that yes, it is beautiful to have long hair, but it’s also beautiful to have short hair, or no hair. Beauty isn’t shown through hair, it’s what’s inside that counts.”
BALD IS THE NEW BLACK
When Pahoresky shared the news with her school community, faculty and students alike were inspired. Two students have decided to shave their heads as well after hearing about Pahoresky’s mission. Charlie Xie (`20) and Trey Stein (`19) will be joining Pahoresky on the first day of summer vacation at St. Baldrick’s. Xie shared that he has never been bald before, nor has he donated his hair to cancer victims, and that is why he is eager to try it. Stein told Pahoresky he had an uncle who died from complications of childhood cancer. Stein said, “I would like to do this in memory of him.”
Xie explained that he and Pahoresky are close friends and both are excited to follow through with their decision, together. Xie is not concerned with his appearance after he shaves his head: “I think what attracts people to people isn’t appearance, it’s their characteristics…That’s what matters.”
A SMALL ACT MAKES A BIG IMPACT
Both Pahoresky and Xie agree that they are amazed how such a small act can create a chain reaction of support and effort toward their cause. Xie comments,“I never would have imagined that someone like me, a freshman at Gilmour at such a young age, would be able to help others by such slight changes, and I think I can do more in my future.” He thinks that students tend to believe that they do not have much to give, so instead they can inspire others to give through their own behavior. “Many people, like teachers and students, are inspired by [what we are doing],” Xie said. “And while they might not necessarily shave their hair, they will do something else to help.”
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