Hempfield senior's haircut helps raise more than $7,500 for Children's Hospital
A Hempfield Area High School senior and a University of Pittsburgh freshman have raised more than $7,500 for the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation using Twitter.
In early December, Hempfield student Sarah Daehler of Hempfield tweeted that if she raised more than $500 for cancer patients, she would shave her hair and donate it to Locks of Love.
In the month that followed, her friend Nick Grott, a Pitt student from Irwin, joined the campaign, promising not only to shave his head, but to also get a tattoo to draw attention to pediatric cancer.
Daehler said she was inspired by a family friend who died from melanoma last January. She was also inspired by a childhood friend who died from a brain tumor at age seven.
“Basically I knew I wanted to raise money and awareness for cancer,” Daehler said. “I shaved my head on Jan. 18, which was the anniversary of the death of our family friend.”
Grott said his life was similarly affected by cancer. Both of his grandparents had cancer, along with several of his friends' parents. He said it took Daehler's motivation to start raising money for the cause.
“Sarah inspires me,” Grott said. “She is so incredibly selfless and I try to be like that as well. It kind of sparked a lot of motivation in me.”
The two took to Twitter several times, posting updates and a countdown to the day they would shave their heads. The fundraiser took off as the two received donations from family and close friends. Daehler said she received several donations from classmates, despite the fact that the fundraiser was not school-sanctioned.
On what the two called “shave day,” they headed to Great Clips in Hempfield.
“We made an episode out of it,” Grott said. “We had such a great time.”
Grott got his closely cut hair completely shaved, while Daehler started the show by chopping her long blond waves into a mohawk.
“I thought, ‘If I'm shaving my head, I have to take advantage of the situation,'” Daehler said. “It was really fun and I didn't think it was scary.”
After enjoying her mohawk for a few minutes, Daehler had her head completely shaved.
Once the two finish collecting donations, they hope to visit the pediatric oncology unit at Children's to donate.
While their hair will grow out, it's clear that this experience will have a lasting effect on both Daehler and Grott.
Daehler said she hopes to eventually have an impact on cancer patients by working in the medical field. She hopes to begin her career by studying at Bates College in Maine.
Grott said the fundraiser inspired him to switch his major and to begin studying nursing at the University of Pittsburgh.
“It's been a fantastic experience,” Grott said. “It's just really humbling to see what we can do.”
Alicia McElhaney is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.