Since the very first headshaves for cancer in 2003, thousands of Edmontonians have answered the call to dye their hair pink, buzz it all off and raise money for kids with cancer. But this year, the Hair Massacure event was in jeopardy.
Despite raising $12 million since it first began, after the 15th annual event, something went wrong. The charities normally involved did not renew their contracts with Hair Massacure, and that left co-founder Tammy MacDonald and her family at a loss.
“I had just kind of resigned myself to the fact that Hair Massacure would need a rest. There was no possible way that I could do that on my own,” MacDonald said.
Cue the Alberta Cancer Foundation and Children’s Wish Foundation. The two charities called MacDonald and said they wanted to see if they could rejuvenate the event.
With their support, the razors were once again buzzing at West Edmonton Mall’s Ice Palace on Friday.
“This event has been an institution in Edmonton for 15 years,” Ryan Campbell with the Alberta Cancer Foundation said. “The fact that it almost didn’t come back this year, we were just so happy we could get involved, help Tammy and her family get it back up and running and have all of these people out here supporting the event.”
Two of the youngest participants this year were six-year-olds Parker MacLeod and Oliver Bly.
“It’s kinda ticklish,” Parker said as his pink-dyed locks fell to the ground.
“We’re here for people that have cancer,” Oliver explained. “Because they go through chemotherapy and they lose their hair.”
Between the two of them, the hockey teammates raised $800.
“I was super emotional because I am so proud of him,” Parker’s mom, Amy MacLeod, said.
“I wasn’t surprised by his generosity, but it just makes my heart melt.”
The goal of the Hair Massacure is to raise $1 million for the Alberta Cancer Foundation and Children’s Wish Foundation.
Half of the money will go towards developing new treatment options for children with cancer and supports for teens and young adults in navigating their disease and the hospitals.
The other half of the money raised will make sick kids’ dreams come true.
“We say the average cost of a wish is $10,000 so that’s going to help us grant a lot of wishes, which is really great!” exclaimed Jenna Brewer from the Children’s Wish Foundation.
A number of kids with terminal illnesses came out to Friday’s event.
“It’s really hard to see your hair come out in clumps. Everybody that’s shaving here today is doing it in solidarity with them. It’s to support them and make them feel that it’s not a big deal to not have hair,” Brewer said.
“Bald is beautiful is what we say.”
MacDonald hopes the new partnership forged with the two charities will breathe life into the Hair Massacure for years to come.
“There’s people that are just coming here for the first time today. They’re laying their money down today. They’re shaving and donating their hair. It’s just fantastic to see all this support,” MacDonald said.
The event continues until 8 p.m. Friday and donations will be accepted online for weeks to come.