KINGSTON, R.I.- March 22, 2017- The St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s second annual Brave the Shave event, held just before spring break, was a great success at the University of Rhode Island. But for one donor, the event meant so much more.
Senior biological sciences and applied mathematics double major Courtney Graham went to great lengths, as she donated 17 inches of hair and then had her entire head shaved in solidarity with those fighting cancer.
“My decision to shave my head was one that was a few years in the making,” the North Kingstown resident said. “I first saw a video of what women who shaved their heads gained from the experience, then later spoke to URI’s St. Baldrick’s Ambassador Ian Kanterman about the impact these kinds of events have. I decided to add shaving my head to my unofficial bucket list.”
With the help of family and friends, Graham has raised $375 and counting for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to conquer childhood cancers. Graham was among 140 participants and volunteers who helped raise more than $15,000 toward URI’s $20,000 goal.
“Leading up to the donation process, I only noticed a difference two weeks before the event. At some point, I started thinking about how I was going to have to compensate for the lack of hair. I was worrying about wearing makeup and dresses, as if I had to keep myself feminine, prevent myself from being misgendered, or deal with dating being weird,” Graham said.
“It hit me that I wasn’t just standing in solidarity with children and women who lost their hair through cancer, cancer treatment, and medical issues like Alopecia. I was also standing behind people who identify as anything other than the gender norms and who deal with ‘mis-gendering’ or marginalization on a daily basis. I’m trying to use this experience as a way to better empathize with members of my community and surrounding communities.”
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is best known for its Brave the Shave event in which anyone can get involved by either donating their hair or shaving their head and raising money in the process.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do this. It has been fun for me, but it has been even more meaningful” said Graham. “I don’t necessarily feel like I’ve done anything courageous. For me, my hair hasn’t been a huge part of my identity, what I do and why I do it is more important. Its only been two days though, so we’ll see if I notice something else later!”
Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this press release.