by Lou Mancinelli
A pair of 15-year-old Springfield Township High School freshmen are set on growing their hair to help in the fight against cancer. At the same time they hope to break a world record for the most hair dedicated to charity in one day and raise $10,000 for the oncology ward at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The event, set for January of next year, is called “Januhairy.”
They’ll need help. With plans to organize a thousand people and inspiring them to grow their hair until next January, Erdenheim residents Emily Henry and Hannah Grothusen plan to donate hair, used for making wigs for cancer patients who have lost their own from chemotherapy.
The event will take place on Jan. 18, 2016, Martin Luther King Day, at Springfield High School. Their faculty advisor, middle school principal, Mrs. Davis, and high school principal, Dr. Rittenhouse, are assisting the girls with planning the event.
The girls are spreading the word now because one must have at least eight inches of hair in order for it to be donated to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program. To keep it stylish, Henry and Grothusen recently met with stylists at Avant Apres Salon in Erdenheim, and arranged for them to help with the “Januhairy” cuttings.
They’re aiming to sign up 1,000 people, which should be enough to break the current Guinness World Record, which is currently 107 pounds of hair donated by 881 people at a 2007 event in Mississippi. Henry and Grothusen hope to raise $10,000 for CHOP by asking each participant to donate $10.
So far, about 75 people have signed up, and according to Angela Henry, Emily’s mother, dozens more have pledged their participation vocally but have not gone to the website to actually sign up. The actual hair cannot be donated until the day of the event, and the girls only have 24 hours to collect it all in order to break the record.
Aside from contributing to a good cause, it’s “just to give the kids [fighting cancer] an opportunity not to be scared about what they’re going through,” said Emily, who plays field hockey, swimming and lacrosse at Springfield.
How does Emily feel about growing her hair long for nearly a year and then suddenly chopping it away on one afternoon. “I’m not really worried about it,” she said. “I know a few girls are afraid, but it’s for a good cause.”
It was after a group of girls, including Grothusen, performed a similar hair donation for a 2014 Day of Service at Springfield Middle School that Henry was inspired to donate her own hair for charity. She, Grothusen and some other friends then hatched the “Januhairy” idea. “We were so amazed at how easy it was to give up our hair,” the girls said.
To spread the world, the girls have been handing out flyers and, at a recent Relay For Life event, set up a table, where they shared their goals. Your hair grows about six inches a year, Henry said. If you already have three inches and keep growing it, she explained, when it’s cut at “Januhairy” next year, it will be about the same length it is now.
The “Januhairy” event itself will be a heavily volunteer-run event. If you or someone you know is willing to grow their hair and have eight inches cut off, sign up at januhairy2016.com. If you’re interested in volunteering on the day of the event (that includes stylists, too) contact Emily or Hannah through the website or at firstname.lastname@example.org.