I believe in being inspired by others.
At the University of Virginia we have an annual fundraiser for the St. Baldricks Foundation for Children’s Cancer Research where both male and female students gather to shave their heads. The planning for the fundraiser starts months in advance with participants collecting donations, seeking sponsors, and publicizing.
In the beginning of March last year I went on a student run trip to Ecuador to do some volunteer work on an organic farm. One of my classmates at UVA who was leading the trip had participated in St. Baldricks during the 2007 event by shaving her head, and another friend on the trip would be shaving her head in just a couple of weeks. I promised I would be there to support them because I was proud of their decision— it was for such a great cause. On the other hand, the thought of shaving my own long, blonde locks off was petrifying—But why?
When the evening of head shaving rolled around, everyone gathered in the open floor space of Satellite Ballroom. There was a stage set up with volunteers ready and eager to shave heads and collect hair. I was there to hold my friends hands, and remind them people with cancer do not have a choice to lose their hair, and that this was a wonderful action of solidarity. Plus, all the funds they had already raised, and would still raise post-shave, would be a valuable contribution for research. With upbeat music bouncing in the background, the buzzing of razors, and lots of joyous tears and hugs, I thought to myself—then why am I not getting my head shaved?
“You can still shave your head tonight. People will definitely continue to donate after the fact,” I overheard someone saying, but rather lightheartedly. Then racing through my mind: I can still do it. I can still shave my head. It would not be right to leave tonight without doing what so many other’s had confidently chosen to do—because it was a powerful way to contribute to children’s cancer research.
Next thing I knew, I was sitting in the chair; a man racing the cool, sharp metal of an electric razor over my scalp. In the following weeks, friends and families were more than eager to donate on my decision, they too perhaps vicariously shivering at the thought of having their own bald heads.
I am not the one who brought this event to UVA, I did not help run the event, and I was not the one who realized months in advance what a spectacular purpose it had—I was the one who was inspired by others. And perhaps some of the students who had inspired me had been inspired by previous participants, and perhaps the organizer of the event was inspired by other Universities doing the same event. That’s fine with me: I believe in being inspired by others—and hey, maybe I inspired someone else too.
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