I met Kendra several years ago when I styled her hair for her wedding day. She had really pretty, very long, blond hair and was an absolute vision on her wedding day. We later became friends on Facebook and have remained in touch over the years. In 2010, when Kendra shared that she was going to be a part of a St. Baldrick's Day fundraiser, she got my attention.
A St. Whodrick's Day What?
What is St. Baldrick's Day?
St. Baldrick's Day was born when some friends decided to raise money on St. Patrick's Day for cancer by shaving their heads. A goal of raising $17,000 resulted in over $100,000 and it quickly became the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer research.
Kendra's St. Baldrick's Journey
Kendra Dicker-Deutsch, a teacher in suburban Illinois, first learned of St. Baldrick's Day on the local news where a newscaster shaves his head yearly for the fundraiser. Two years before she took the plunge herself, a female acquaintance shaved her head for the charity, and sparked Kendra's attention. In 2009 when a fellow teacher held a school-wide St. Baldrick's Day event for teachers to shave their heads (with their students doing the shaving) to raise money for the fundraiser, Kendra found herself contemplating going bald to raise money for the charity.
The 2009 event at her school was a huge success, but even though she never signed up to shave her head, Kendra nearly went bald that year. She had been on the fence about going through with it, but hadn't signed up in time to be shaved. Toward the end of the event, where only male teachers shaved their heads, a challenge was made by one of the barbers offering $200.00 to the charity for a female teacher to shave her head. Others sweetened the pot and soon there was $400 on the line, for a great cause.
"At this point I was standing up, frozen in place. A student of mine was in back of me literally pushing me forward. I thought to myself that this push must be what I was waiting for, and I stepped forward toward the barber. I will never forget the roar of the crowd as I did this," Kendra explained during our interview.
Can you imagine? While nervous, Kendra agreed to do it. There she sat, ready to shave her head in solidarity with her colleagues and with kids with cancer.
But in the end, the barber lost HIS nerve, and instead they only copped off a few inches of her hair. The adrenaline rush was all Kendra needed to know that she would go through with it the next year.
Kendra's St. Baldrick's Day: March 19, 2010
When I asked her if she ever considered not going through with shaving her head, Kendra was quick and matter of fact to tell me, "nope." Even when, the week before her school wide St. Baldrick's Day event, over 700 teachers had been pink slipped, including her. Even when others tried to tell her that she may prefer to have hair for job interviews. "I knew I wanted to go through with this and show that my hair was just vanity. I could live without it if it brought something good to others."
Each teacher that went through with shaving their head chose a raffle ticket of a student that would actually do the shaving (with a barber's assistance, of course). Kendra's thoughts as this student shaved her head? "I just kept thinking that I didn't want to cry. I didn't really feel like crying, and I wanted it to be a positive gesture, so I just concentrated on smiling and I closed my eyes."
While she kept it light and positive, Kendra didn't look in the mirror for well over an hour after the event. Afraid of not liking her reflection, she just avoided mirrors. "I'll never forget the sensation of the wind going over my naked head," Kendra described, "it was like every nerve was magnified."
So, how did she feel when she finally saw her reflection? "I still looked like myself." Kendra joked.
The next several months brought a nice change for Kendra. The low maintenance of having no hair was nice. The only phase of the next 12 months that she hated was about two months post shave when she described her hair as "dandelion" like, scraggly, and with no real way to style it. That phase quickly passed and the next several months brought a little more style.
I asked Kendra if the event was worth the sacrifice and her answer was rather remarkable. "It really didn't feel like a sacrifice."
"One of the things people told me over and over was that I looked good bald because I had a nice shaped head, and that they couldn't do it because their heads were misshapen. I sincerely doubt that. I think there is a beauty to woman with a bald head, and if a woman wants to do this event she should. I doubt that she would regret it."
Inspiring the Next Bald Women
As a friend inspired her, you can well imagine that Kendra's St. Baldrick's Day journey as inspired another of her friends. On March 11, 2011 Kendra's friend Jamie will also shave her head for this incredible fundraiser, and we hope she will share her story with us as well. Maybe, someday, we can share yours.