As prom approaches, many high school girls busy themselves with getting their nails painted, doing their makeup, finding the right dress and locating the perfect arm candy to tie everything together.
But there is one thing Ashlie Schlatweiler didn’t have to worry about on the big day – her hair.
Last year, the freshman special education and elementary education major shaved her head to raise money for St. Baldricks, a fundraising program for childhood cancer research.
And she plans on doing it again at the end of March.
“Shaving your head is probably the smallest sacrifice that you can give for this cause,” Schlatweiler said. “And hair grows back.”
When her friend Luke was diagnosed with leukemia during her freshman year of high school, Schlatweiler decided to donate her hair to Locks of Love, an organization that provides hair pieces to children who have lost their hair because of a medical illness.
She decided to later shave her head when Luke was diagnosed with lymphoma about three years later.
“Luke and I had been friends all through grade school and middle school and high school,” Schlatweiler said. “He was more like a brother to me than my own brother was to me … we always had fights, but there was this love behind it.”
She had her sister shave her head for her during a high school assembly in her hometown of Belleville.
“[Luke] laughed at me last year,” she said. “I shaved my head six weeks before prom not thinking about prom, and I walked over to him, and he was sitting in his wheel chair and he was just laughing and he said, ‘six weeks till prom.’”
Shaving her head was “incentive” to get people to donate money, and she said for her it was a “sacrifice.”
“When he was diagnosed with leukemia, he couldn’t even call me because of the emotion behind it,” Schlatweiler said. “We had a very close bond.”
She said her family wasn’t aware of her plan to shave her head.
“[My mom] got a call from my sister during lunch and she said, ‘guess what Ashlie did? She shaved her head!’” she said.
She said she raised $5,000 last year, and 12 teachers shaved their heads to support the cause.
“I’m really very happy to be involved in some way even though it’s just a small way,” she said. “I think it’s important that we work to get rid of cancer in the world, especially in children because it’s just a terrible experience.”
Schlatweiler said she was excited to shave her head.
“I was in shock for a very short while,” she said. “It was a little while before I realized it was freezing because I had no hair.”
Her friend is now in remission, and he plans to study to become an oncologist, she said.
Schlatweiler has raised about $45 so far, and her goal is to raise $1,000 between herself and a few of her friends who will shave their heads as well.
Those interested in donating should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.