Residents from throughout Connecticut donated their time and their hair on Monday to help children suffering from cancer.
Organizers said approximately 200 people received haircuts for “Locks of Love,” a benefit designed to provide cancer patients with custom-made wigs. Lines at the benefit, organized through the national nonprofit of the same name, had formed well in advance of the event’s 10 a.m. opening in Payne Whitney Gymnasium, and did not let up.
“It’s been nonstop,” Sarah Merten EPH ’06, an organizer for the event, said.
After the hair is cut, it is placed in a plastic bag and measured, Merten said. Clippings longer than 10 inches are used by Locks of Love to make wigs, which are given to children who are sponsored by the organization until they are 18. If it is shorter than 10 inches, the hair is sold to offset the cost of the wigs, which can cost as much as $2,500 to make.
Children show Locks of Love a picture of their hair before their medical treatment and then receive a custom wig based on the photo, Merten said.
Mariam Letriz, a New Haven resident, said she came so that other families would not have to go through the experience she had when her cousin developed cancer.
“I watched her get put in her coffin without hair,” she said. “To get a wig was almost impossible.”
She said she wanted others “not to suffer” because they could not have hair.
The event was publicized in a variety of ways around the city and even outside its boundaries.
Robin Wagner ’09 said she and a suitemate had both had long hair that they had been debating cutting before they saw signs for the event on campus.
“When we saw this, we made a deal that we’d get it cut together,” she said. “It’s such a great cause, and that was really important to me.”
Hairstylist Nicole Walker was cutting hair at one chair in a long row where people parted with their locks. She said her salon, which is in Summersville, Conn., found out about the event over the Internet.
“We’ve had people of all ages,” Walker said. “We had a 6-year-old donate her hair. It’s been fun to see everyone.”
Around her, little girls with long hair waited with their parents for their turn. According to the Locks of Love Web site, more than 80 percent of the hair donors are children.
Eight hours into the 10-hour event, the gym remained crowded with donors. Merten was still darting back and forth, calling out names.
Sarah Littlefield EPH ’06, who was selling T-shirts at the event, said the turnout was overwhelming.
“It’s been more than we can handle,” she said.
This was the second Locks of Love event at Yale. Last year, Merten said, the turnout exceeded expectations.
“They said we’d have 15 participants,” she said. “But we had 120 participants and 90 ponytails and made over $1,000.”
The funds raised at this year’s event had not been totaled Monday night, but event organizers said they expect to have met or exceeded last year’s sum.