Keene State comes together to fight cancer

Several organizations Relay for Life

On April 1, despite a storm coming through Keene the night before, dropping several inches of snow, Relay for Life hosted nearly 300 people in the Spaulding Gymnasium, where light strips and streamers led teams in the right direction for the long walk.

Colton McCracken / Equinox Staff

Colton McCracken / Equinox Staff

Relay for Life is an event held all around the world to raise money and awareness for cancer. According to their website, it was started by Dr. Gordon Klatt in 1985 in Tacoma, Washington. Klatt was the only person to walk the first year, but he went the full 24 hours. The first event raised $27,000 for the American Cancer Society. Every year since then, it has been a group fundraiser, where team members take turns walking around a track to signify how cancer never sleeps, and at least for one night, neither will the people walking and fighting it. Events range from six to 24 hours, but the event held at KSC was from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.

KSC senior Elizabeth Truesdell, who is on her second year as the event chair for Relay for Life, said she didn’t think the snow would affect attendance, considering most participants were students. Truesdell said, “The theme this year was game boards. We have a bunch of life-sized games we’re playing, so life-sized Tic Tac Toe, life-sized Hungry Hungry Hippos, we have a Mr. and Ms. Relay competition [and] really just games to get everyone involved.”

Not only were there games, but the gym also had a speaker system that played music to get everyone excited and keep them walking toward their goal. There were also banners and streamers for participants to take pictures with. A monopoly-style jail was off to the back half of the gym and was a popular photo destination for walkers.

Colton McCracken / Equinox Staff

Colton McCracken / Equinox Staff

KSC senior Brittany Junkins said this is her third year walking with Relay for Life. She is a part of Delta Xi Phi and said, “The American Cancer Society is my sorority’s philanthropy. So every year, this is our big event we raise a lot of money for and we walk the full 12 hours.”

Sarah Olson, a senior with the KSC dance team, has walked with the team all of her four years here. She said she was excited because this year, the dance team would be performing during Relay. She was really passionate about Relay’s cause and while she was excited that her and her team were getting to perform, she also stressed the importance of why everyone took the time to come out and were spending their day walking around a gym. She said, “We walk for our family members and friends who have battled cancer and we’re here to support our college and our community.”

Hair donations for Beautiful Lengths

On April 1, twenty KSC students and Keene community members donated hair to make wigs for people who are fighting cancer to have access to free wigs. Beautiful Lengths was at the same as Relay for Life.

Molly Mulrennan, a KSC sophomore, was at the event and said she was really excited to donate her hair. Mulrennan said, “It’s something I do all the time, well not all the time, but I grow out my hair for the reason of donating it.”

Tim Smith / Photo Editor

Tim Smith / Photo Editor

She said she has probably donated her hair seven or eight times before.

Aimee Krafft is a sophomore and helped to coordinate the event.

She said she was really excited about how the event turned out.

Originally, the Beautiful Lengths event was planned on the same day as Relay for Life because Kraftt was not sure if they would have enough people interested to do their own event, but as the day progressed, Krafft said she was pleasantly surprised by how many people attended.

Krafft said, “Originally we had 13 people sign up, but we had a few more come at the door, so we had twenty in all.”

Jennifer Brown-Bassle, the store manager of Supercuts, said she and the other stylists at Supercuts love to come to KSC to do the event every year as their way of giving back to the community.

Beautiful Lengths is a program, started by Pantene, that has donated over 42,000 real-hair wigs to the national American Cancer Society Wig Bank.

The event took place in several parts. First, all the participants went down into the gymnasium for the “first cuts.”

Many Relay for Life participants surrounded them as friends and other people running the event cut off eight to 10 inches of hair off of every donor’s head. “The hair is cut off and we give the person who’s donating a good quality style. Then, the donations get sent out to Beautiful Lengths, where they make wigs for people in need,” said Brown-Bassle.

She said there are a few things that a person needs to have to be eligible to donate hair. “It needs to be eight inches or longer and they (Beautiful Lengths) prefer no color-treated hair and for it to be in good quality.”

Supercuts will cut hair any time of year for Beautiful Lengths. It may not be free in the salon, but the hair will still go to a person in need. Supercuts is located in the Walmart plaza, less than a ten-minute walk from the college.

Alyssa Salerno can be contacted at

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