When Ithaca College Sophomore Sarah Pearson woke up on Monday morning she had a full head of thick brown hair down past her shoulders. By 1 p.m. that same afternoon, her hair stretched just below her ears.
Pearson had just donated over eight inches of her hair to Ithaca College Hillel’s annual Inch-A-Thon event.
This event, also known as the Shoshana Rudnick event named after it’s creator, has been happening every year in the Campus Center foyer of Ithaca College. Shoshana Rudnick who is now an Ithaca College alumna started the event back in 2005 during her sophomore year of college.
According to Marisa Rosenberg, the social justice chair of IC Hillel, Rudnick originally wanted to start an event that raised awareness for a Jewish organization involving the topic of cancer. Rudnick had been heavily involved in IC’s chapter of Hillel, and also has a strong passion for cancer and the hair loss many experience because of the disease. Rudnick came up with the Inch-A-Thon event and Hillel has carried it on every spring semester for the past ten years.
Each year local salons donate their time and services to provide haircuts to students. The cost of a haircut per student is ten dollars. The entire proceeds are then donated to a Jewish organization of Hillel’s choosing revolving around cancer or cancer research.
The past few years Hillel has chosen to donate the proceeds to the non-profit organization Sharsheret, which focuses on raising awareness and research funds for Jewish adults with breast cancer.
“This has always been a great fundraising event for everyone involved. We raise a lot of money, a lot of hair is donated, and students are able to get haircuts right before spring break which is usually ideal,” said Hillel member Kayla Reisman.
Students also receive a free haircut if they donate more than eight inches of hair.
Freshman Shayna DePersia had no intention of cutting off of her hair, but once she saw her friend getting a trim she realized that she had to get hers cut as well.
“I love my hair, but I just decided while walking by the event that it was time for a cut, and donating my hair to charity could not have been a better reason to do it. Plus getting a free haircut is always a bonus,” said DePersia.
All of the hair that is cut or donated during the event is given to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Beautiful Lengths is a partnership between Pantene and the American Cancer Society, which is the largest nonprofit health organization committed to improving the quality of life for those facing the disease.
So far, Pantene has donated 18,000 free wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig banks. Wigs are then distributed to cancer patients around the country.
The organization, however, can only create as many wigs as there is hair being donated. The Shoshana Rudnick Inch-A-Thon donations helps to bring the American Cancer Society even closer in aiding those battling cancer.
This year, the Ithaca College Hillel Inch-A-Thon was able to raise over $800 to donate to Sharsheret. They were also able to donate hair from the heads of twenty-five people to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
“We hope to continue this event every year in honor of Shoshana and all of those affected by cancer,” said Rosenberg.