When Egg Harbor Township resident Julie Park shaved her head in November 2011, donating her hair to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients, she told herself that it would be a one-time thing. But after the shock of seeing her shorn scalp in the mirror wore off, Park began itching to donate again.
As the months went by, Park, 18, closely monitored the length of her hair, waiting for it to reach 8 inches - the minimum length to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which she had decided would be the recipient in her second go-round. When her hair finally hit the requisite length in March, Park set an appointment for April 4, inviting friends to join her.
When the date of her haircut finally arrived, Park said it could not have come soon enough.
"I was kind of, actually, just waiting," said Park, who is a senior at the Atlantic County Institute of Technology. "I'd measure my hair every few months, and wait and wait and wait, until it was 8 inches long. Here we are, finally."
On April 4, Park was joined by friends McKenna Grant, of the Bargaintown section of Egg Harbor Township, Amy Vatthanavong, also of Bargaintown, and Monique Arches, of Egg Harbor City, to have their hair cut at Ryan's Barbershop in Linwood. Park enlisted her friends in the effort through a Facebook post, she said.
Park, who shaved her head, and Vatthanavong and Grant, who cut off a length of their hair, donated their clippings to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths. Arches donated hers to U.K.-based Little Princesses Trust Fund, which accepts dyed hair. Park's boyfriend, G Dull , and her friend, Matthew Whitley, whose hair was too short to donate, had their heads shaved in solidarity with cancer patients.
Whitley, who had his head shaved in tribute to his aunt, who is a breast cancer survivor, said he was impressed by Park when she first donated in 2011.
"Not a lot of girls are willing to do that," Whitley said. "I think it's really great for everyone that's here, shaving their heads, to support the cause."
Park has been personally affected by cancer, as her cousin, who lives in Florida, is battling the disease.
Even before her cousin's cancer was diagnosed, though, Park said she had thought of donating her hair.
Park's mother, Kim, was at the barbershop April 4. She admitted she was initially afraid her daughter would be discriminated against by classmates or potential employers when she first got her hair cut, but now says she's impressed with her daughter's generosity.
"I was very proud of her," she said. "It took a lot of courage, and she did it, and she looked beautiful."
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