Ladies and gentlemen, start growing out your hair now, because this spring, Keene State College will host its first Pantene Beautiful Lengths event.
The Beautiful Lengths event at KSC is set to be held on April 13, 2013, according to the group’s Facebook page. KSC junior Allisonl and KSC senior Brittany Porter are the women behind the event. Bedell came up with the idea after seeing a similar event take place at her high school, Londonderry High School.
According to Bedell, six or seven years ago a girl cut off her hair in front of the entire school during a pep rally. After that experience students kept asking if they could do something similar. Londonderry High School holds the world record for most hair being cut at one time.
What makes the Beautiful Lengths organization stand out is that they donate wigs to women battling cancer, free of charge. Nancy Collins, the communications executive for health initiative at the American Cancer Society, is in charge of the hair donations in the Keene area. The American Cancer Society takes care of the hair donations and the Beautiful Lengths organization does the planning, according to Collins. She claimed that just last year, 280 wigs were donated to cancer patients. Nine out of ten times, women battling cancer lose most of their hair, so wig donation organizations are the second most utilized programs, Collins said.
Collins said that most insurance cover the costs of a wig, but some do not have insurance. “Everyone is entitled to one free wig,” Collins said.
Bedell said she would like to model this event at KSC after the one that occurred at her high school. Both Porter and Bedell plan on hosting their event in the Spaulding Gymnasium next spring, where all the girls donating their hair will be sitting in chairs on the floor of the gym, each paired with a person behind them to cut the ponytail.
When a countdown reaches “one” all the donors’ ponytails will be cut off simultaneously. Bedell and Porter will then package up the ponytails and send them out to Pantene. They even plan on having shirts to give out to donors as a thank you for their contribution. Bedell said she is hoping for a turnout of about 200 volunteers. Porter, who said she hopes this event becomes annual at KSC, is even expecting one or two male donors.
The Pantene website does mention measuring the hair when straightened if the hair is naturally curly or wavy. This will help give a more accurate reading. Pantene also prefers what they call “virgin hair.” Virgin hair means the hair is not graying and has not been permanently dyed or bleached.
They will accept these donations; it is just harder for the staff at HairUWear, the company that creates the wigs, to match these ponytails with others. According to the Pantene website, the wigmakers take six ponytails and dye them all the same color to create the wig. Hair that is grayed, bleached, or dyed will not absorb the hair color at the same rate as virgin hair, causing the wig color to be uneven.
Jennifer Herman, a junior, has already made the pledge to donate her hair this spring. Herman said she has not donated her hair before and is both excited and nervous for the event.
This cause hit home for Herman because she lost a friend to cancer when she was only in middle school. Herman said she is growing her hair out really long because she “doesn’t want it above the shoulders.” Another definite donor is senior Kassandra Tenney. According to Tenney, this will be her fourth time donating hair to the Beautiful Lengths organization. Her last donation to the organization was in January of 2011 according to Tenney.
Tenney claimed she donates her hair as often as she can in honor of her sister, who lost her battle to cancer. “Two years ago I started doing it in honor of my sister,” Tenney said. Tenney finds this organization to be special because, like Bedell, it started at her high school [Londonderry High School].
Tenney said each year she tries to donate more hair than the last. Her goal this year is to donate a total of nine inches to Beautiful Lengths.
Even though the idea is set, both girls have a lot of planning to do. A date is picked and the venue is booked, but they still need to get the word out. Bedell and Porter want students to be aware of the event now so they can grow out their hair long enough for donation. Fundraisers for the event are still being coordinated Bedell said.
According to Porter, the two are planning pledge dates. Bedell and Porter want to have people pledge and commit to cutting their hair in the spring. So far the social media aspect of raising awareness is their main source of publicity. Bedell has set up a Beautiful Lengths Facebook page and Twitter account. Just last week the Facebook page hit 100 “likes.”
On these pages there are links to a video made by Pantene. The video, created to inform the public on the Beautiful Lengths program, consists of personal testimonies from cancer survivors, as well as footage from the Beautiful Lengths event that was held at Londonderry High School.
Bedell is raising awareness to cancer to support her childhood friend’s mother. According to Bedell her friend’s mother was cancer free, but unfortunately was re-diagnosed. “I wanted to do something for her,” Bedell said.
Porter does not have cancer running in her family, but she “has the hair and is willing to give it.” She said she is already looking forward to rocking a new “Emma Watson-esque hairstyle.”
Shannon Flynn can be contacted at