Actuarial science senior Madason Donaho ran her fingers over her completely bald head in front of the UT Tower on Saturday morning. Just an hour before, it was covered by waist-length hair.
Donaho and 84 others participated in Students Making Impacts Through Love and Empathy’s eighth annual “Brave the Shave” on Saturday morning, an event where participants shave their heads to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer.
As of Friday night, SMILE raised over $36,500 for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest childhood cancer research organization in America.
“I was probably the most nervous I have ever been in my life,” Donaho said. “I was just terrified because this is unmarked territory for a lot of us women, we haven’t ever had a bald head since we were out of the womb.”
Donaho said she decided to shave a week earlier but had been debating it for around six months.
“Honestly I just couldn’t get the idea of it out of my head and I knew that if I didn’t do it, I would be disappointed in myself,” Donaho said. “Both of my grandparents died of pancreatic cancer.”
Event committee chair Sydney Moore said they recruit people to be shaved but also receive some volunteers.
“We have a lot of people that reach out to us and then we also go and talk to student organizations and table in West Mall and Speedway,” Moore, an undeclared sophomore, said. “We have had three people just today show up and decide to shave so we just fit them in the schedule.”
Environmental science sophomore Han Ooi said he was not nervous to shave his head because he has been bald before.
“My parents don’t agree with it, but I love being bald and it’s easier washing your hair,” Ooi said. “I did it mainly for (my) grandpa because he passed away last year and shaving my head is a way of showing the love I have for him.”
Donaho said the experience was empowering for her.
“I decided to shave because it scares the hell out of me,” Donaho said. “I know that there are women and men out there who have to face the fear of losing their hair without choosing to do so, and I’m choosing to stand with them and show women that it doesn’t matter how long your hair is, you are still beautiful.”