The annual Hair Massacure is now in full swing for its 11th drive and a wave of bright pink hair is bombarding not only the St. Albert and surrounding region, but increasingly more of Alberta.
“We had almost 2,000 participants last year when all was said and done,” said Tammy MacDonald, the Morinville woman at the head of the effort. She added that there are already 1,100 signed up, just before the launch and the whirlwind three-week campaign got underway last week.
Not bad for a quirky project that started with only a dozen brave souls and scalps.
“I think it’s going pretty good,” MacDonald said, downplaying her enthusiasm. “We’re really busy.”
Things look to get even busier in the next two weeks. Supporters come from all walks of life. Even though it’s very popular with school children, there’s a faithful and growing legion of adult supporters as well. MacDonald said that members of the Edmonton Rush lacrosse team will be joining the club during a public relations event at Ronald McDonald House in the coming days.
First, participants dye their hair an electric shade of fuchsia called Kali Pink. Then they get pledges. The drive concludes on Friday, Feb. 15 at West Edmonton Mall when everyone shaves off their hair to demonstrate their solidarity with those fighting cancer.
Dr. Allan McDonald of the Associate Medical Clinic is a new member of the flock. He said that his stepson, Cole Precht, has been doing it regularly for a few years and he just wanted to show his support too. But it took until now to convince himself to do it.
“It’s not just a little bit pink, not a pinkish hue or a pink streak. It’s just completely pink,” he emphasized. “It’s just a small gesture to try to support [the cause].”
“Some of my patients are very shocked but a lot of them have heard of it and right away know what I’m doing,” he said. “Those who don’t know… it’s great because they’ll ask and I’ll explain.”
Because of this free advertising, he’s had some patients and fellow physicians contribute pledges.
Their team, Cole and Allan, already has $1,850 in pledges out of a goal of $2,000. Members of the public can donate through the website at www.hairmassacure.com.
Local home inspector and Canadian Progress Club member John Rennie has also taken the plunge. He said that it’s been on his to-do list for a few years.
“I can always find excuses not to,” he admitted. “This year I said I should just do it.”
His daughter owns Details, a north Edmonton hair salon that supports the cause. Rennie went down there a few weekends ago to get the dye job. He confessed that he was a tad self-conscious to get so much attention the first day and people made a bit of fun of him. At the end of the day, he said, it’s all good because those people will still donate.
“The money goes toward cancer. I just thought, ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ I lost my father to cancer. I lost my grandfather to cancer. My sister went through breast cancer. It just affects so many people. It’s time to do something like this; it’s not doing anybody any harm.”
Wigging outward and upward
The event started in 2002 when MacDonald’s daughter, Kali – the namesake of the hair dye – was undergoing her third round of chemotherapy for childhood leukemia.
In little more than a decade, the small event has expanded and become a mainstay in such centres as Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray and Calgary.
It has also branched out to locations out of province, in British Columbia, Ontario and the Maritimes.
Last year the event reached a record $1.3 million. That sum put its 10-year tally over $6 million. All funds raised go to support the Stollery Children’s Hospital, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern Alberta, and the Ronald McDonald House of Northern Alberta.
MacDonald said that her “modest goal” this year is to get to $1.5 million.
“I don’t want to jinx myself – 1.5 million is reasonable,” she said.
For more information about the event, the charity organization itself or the causes it supports, please call 780-431-4621 or visit www.hairmassacure.com.