I have this love/hate thing going with the end of the school year.
I love that summer is almost here and that school is getting out. But sandwiched in between the end of school activities is the annual Warner Robins High School Locks of Love event.
I dont hate it. Dont get me wrong. I love that young people donate their hair for wigs for those who have lost their own hair to cancer treatments. It is heartwarming to see teenagers cut off a prized possession for strangers who they will never meet.
But every year, at Locks of Love, a video is shown about the life of Joanna McAfee, in whose memory the event is held. Heres the part I hate: when I cry in public every year while watching the video.
Randi Collier, a teacher at Warner Robins High who oversees the event, started the effort years ago in honor of Joanna, who was battling a rare form of cancer. Randi wanted to do something to help bring awareness of youths with cancer. Hair that is cut is donated to Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that takes human hair and makes wigs for children who have lost their hair because of medical reasons. Anyone, including those with permed or colored hair, can participate. Hair must be at least 10 inches long and either braided or ponytailed when submitted.
The event was held in Joannas honor the first year. The years since have all been held in her memory after she passed away in 2005 at the age of 6.
Last week, at the semi-annual Warner Robins High Locks of Love, 10 people had their hair cut.
Erin Butikofer, a sophomore, had her hair cut by her twin, Abby. The girls moved to Warner Robins this year.
This has been on my bucket list, Erin said. Instead of just getting your hair chopped off, get it cut off for a good cause.
Other donations were given by Marisol Ferrel, Rachel Hopkins, Justine Kaercher, Heather Myers, Cody Peets, Lauren Rossman, Evie Stancil, Rachel Walker and Jamie Wells.
The mood of the event goes back and forth. There are plenty of tears as Collier speaks about Joanna and others give testimony about people -- especially young people -- who have been afflicted by cancer.
But there also are plenty of smiles and laughter, as hair drops off or as Collier serenades the crowd of students and teachers who gather in the lunchroom to watch the event with the Rod Stewart song, The First Cut Is the Deepest.
Like I said, I have a love/hate thing going on at the Locks of Love event every year.
I love the fact that young people are literally giving of themselves. I love that Warner Robins High thinks this event is important enough to allow students to take part in it or to come watch.
But, how I hate childhood cancer.
Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or firstname.lastname@example.org.