In 2003, nine volunteers from the Children’s Cancer Foundation decided to shave their head as a symbolic gesture to support children who are going through the difficult phase of life fighting cancer. Hair for Hope was born and the event continues to be a success year after year.
Contributed By Billy Ong
To those who are fighting for their lives in a battle with cancer, Hair for Hope declares, “You are not alone.” In a span of two days, more than 2,000 people pledged their support to the Children’s Cancer Foundation by shaving their heads. Since its inception in 2003, Hair for Hope has provided a platform to create awareness of childhood cancer, as well as to raise funds to help needy families of children with cancer.
In 2004, Hair for Hope went public. Back then, 73 brave volunteers, including women and children, braved the challenge and shaved their heads. A total of close to S$48,000 was raised to help the beneficiaries.
Said Dr. Tay Miah Hiang, chairperson for CCF, “By going bald, shavees take on the role of ambassadors to raise the awareness of childhood cancer and garner support from family, friends and colleagues. Their kind act of shaving shows children with cancer that it is ok to be bald. To all shavees, thank you for showing care and concern for these children.”
Tay attended the Hair for Hope main event held on July 23 together with Minister of Health, Mr. Gan Kim Yong and CCF patron, Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee. They joined in the ceremony by helping to shave the heads of three shavees.
Gan shaved the head of a 16-year-old shavee who was also a cancer survivor. Having overcome cancer, Jatin A. Khemlani wanted to show cancer patients that they are not alone in the battle.
“I want to show support to the cancer patients and I might do this for the next few years.”
Khemlani’s mother, Manesha Khemlani, recalled that the news of her then 2-year-old baby having cancer came as a shock to the whole family, “It would have been difficult for little Jatin to go through the hospital trip and treatments if not for the support of CCF.
“Because Children’s Cancer Foundation gave out goodie bags at the hospital, Jatin looked forward to going for the hospital visits. The foundation also gave them entertainment in the hospital and that gave him a pleasant experience at the hospital.”
Hair for Hope 2011 saw its highest number of shavees since inception. Among these were shoppers in VivoCity, who spontaneously joined as walk-in shavees in support of a good cause. Prior to the two-day event, 27 satellite events for corporations and schools were organized from June to August; these saw a total number of 1,142 shavees.
HFH’s target this year was to raise S$1.8 million dollars to help the beneficiaries. Over S$800,000 has been raised so far through donations of supporters.
Going through cancer can be financially draining for families as chemotherapy treatments are expensive. HFH not only shows that it is all right to be bald; the money it has raised through the campaign goes a long way to help ease the financial burdens cancer patients and their families face.
City News spoke to some of the shavees, all of whom had different reasons for taking part in the event. Su Ong, who is a cancer survivor, said, “I am a cancer survivor turning 50 this year and I want to celebrate it in a special and meaningful way.”
A student who only wanted to be known as Derek, 21, said, “It all started when I went with my church mate to support a friend that we were reaching out to. She had signed up for the event at VivoCity, and initially we were just planning to keep her company.
“But at the event, I was asked if I wanted to join in and have my head shaved as well. I was a little reluctant at first as I couldn’t imagine myself without any hair!
“But as I watched my friend give up her hair to support cancer patients, I felt convicted and very moved in my heart. So I decided to share in this experience with her.”