Proud 2 Be a Pilot 2018: Students and Faculty Donate Hair for Women Undergoing Cancer Treatment | Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School


Proud 2 Be a Pilot 2018: Students and Faculty Donate Hair for Women Undergoing Cancer Treatment

Ashley Roben '22 waits excitedly as friends cut her hair to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

The normally-rambunctious Proud 2 Be a Pilot (P2BAP) Rally took a philanthropic turn this year, with students and faculty taking the stage to give back to those living with cancer. In front of the entire school, participants spoke about their personal experiences and connections with cancer before cutting their long locks to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, a campaign providing free, real-hair wigs for women undergoing cancer treatment.

Mr. Paul Valmassy, Spanish teacher and moderator of Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (SHH) club, which organized the service project, helped choose the cause and organization.

“I had donated my hair to this organization a couple of times at my previous school, so the idea was always in the back of my mind to do it here at SJND,” explained Mr. Valmassy. “I did not want SHH to be a club that students only ‘belong to’ for a couple years and then get a cord at Graduation as their sole tangible club experience,” he continued. “Rather, I want them to know that an Academic Club can also make a difference in the community. I brought the idea to our Club Officers, and everybody was enthusiastic to work on it.”

Mr. Valmassy also chose this organization to honor his childhood friend Christian, who was diagnosed with and beat pediatric cancer. The cancer never returned, but the aggressive treatments on such a young person left Christian with many health issues, particularly a severe curving of his spine which led to difficulties maintaining weight. Unfortunately, Christian ultimately succumbed to these health complications in February 2016.

“Although he may have been small in stature, he will always be a giant in my eyes in terms of his endless strength to live every day to the fullest and for all the unconditional love he gave to everyone around him despite being in chronic pain himself. He's one of my heroes, and I always dedicate every hair donation I make to him,” Mr. Valmassy said.

Before cutting their hair, many of the students and faculty joined Mr. Valmassy in paying tribute to a person in their lives who has had cancer. Mrs. Taylor, who has endured cancer treatment herself, also participated in the service project.

Junior Cassandra Deleon pauses while remembering a loved one with cancer.
Junior Cassandra Deleon pauses while remembering a loved one with cancer during the P2BAP Rally on Nov. 8. Photo: Maurice Ramirez Photography.

With some participants appearing nervous and others waiting excitedly, the crowd cheered as friends and fellow faculty members gathered the participants’ hair in ponytails and began cutting, holding up the hair proudly once they were finished.

A classmate cuts Teagan Waterloo '19's hair. A classmate cuts Cassandra de Leon '20's hair.
Classmates check out Ashley Roben '22's new hair after cutting it. Science teacher Ms. Kara Gasparrini poses with the hair she will donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
Students and Faculty donate their hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths during the P2BAP Rally on Nov. 8. Photos: Maurice Ramirez Photography

“Although giving up one's hair is a small sacrifice compared to what those who are ill must endure, it can still be a tough thing to ask someone to give up…much to everyone's delight, we had five students step up to donate and each division was represented, as well as three teachers total,” said Mr. Valmassy.

Mr. Valmassy poses with a bag containing the donations for Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
Mr. Paul Valmassy poses with the hair donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Photo: Maurice Ramirez Photography

The participants join many others from throughout the US and Canada who have donated their hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which began in 2006. Through the passion and generosity of donors, the organization is able and committed to meet the future real-hair wig needs of the American and Canadian Cancer Societies for the next four years.

While Pantene Beautiful Lengths will no longer accept new donations beginning in 2019, those interested in donating hair or learning more about the process are encouraged to visit Locks of Love and Wigs for Kids.