The last time Nicole Bansen cut her hair was senior year of high school. Nearly four years later, in her junior year at Stony Brook University, she decided to shave it all off.
After raising $2,523 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the 20-year-old donated 16 inches of her own hair — which flowed to her hips — on Wednesday.
The hair donated at the event was donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, a national organization that uses the hair to create wigs for cancer patients.
“Bald is beautiful,” said Bansen, of Lindenhurst. “There’s that norm that girls should have long hair, but the kids with cancer I’ve met over the years who run around without wigs are just as beautiful to me. Their strength inspired me to do this. This is for them.”
Bansen joined nearly 50 other students raising money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and donating their hair or shaving their head at Stony Brook University.
Rene Andersen, an organizer of the university’s third annual fundraiser for St. Baldrick’s, said they raised $7,700 last year. In six hours on Wednesday, they raised $9,400.
To entice students to get involved, they’re challenged to earn points for their respective undergraduate colleges. They receive a point for every dollar raised, cutting their hair, donating hair and shaving their head. The winning college, to be announced next week, earns bragging rights.
“So many people have some sort of connection to someone with cancer, so this is a good way for these students to get involved in doing some good,” said Andersen, 32, an undergraduate college adviser.
It was Robert Baldi’s second time shaving his head to honor his best friend who died of cancer at age 18 about two years ago. The sophomore said it was the least he could do.
“It was devastating to lose Joe because I knew him my whole life,” said Baldi, 20, of Commack. “I started doing this because of him and I think he’d be proud of me for supporting cancer research to someday help find a cure.”
After donating $20 and receiving a shoulder length haircut, Yiwan Wu proudly held in her hand 8 inches of her black hair to be bagged and shipped to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
“Since I have so much hair, I felt like it would be more helpful to share it with those who need it more than I do,” said Wu, 20, a sophomore and health sciences major.
Bansen’s main inspiration is attributed to her brother’s fight against brain cancer 10 years ago at age 14. For the last decade, she has donated her hair twice and attended Camp Adventure, a weeklong sleep away camp on Shelter Island for children with cancer.
Although her brother’s tumor had since been removed, Bansen still supports the American Cancer Society and St. Baldricks Foundation to show her appreciation.
“We were so lucky they were able to remove my brother’s tumor and he’s healthy today,” she said. “This is just a small part of what I can do for all that has been done for my family.”