Going bald in solidarity


Gabby Mendes has her head shaved alongside Macs Carberry-Santacrose, the top fund-raiser with a total of $9,380, for the St. Baldericks Foundation fund-raiser for childhood cancer research at the university on Saturday, Oct. 22. Melanie Puckett

Roger Williams University freshman Gabby Mendes watched nervously and played with her long, wavy hair as two other students finished having their heads shaved on Saturday to raise funds at the university for childhood cancer research. Her time slot, 3 p.m., was quickly approaching.

“The nervousness comes in waves,” she said. “But I’m really happy I’m doing it.”

Her mother, father, aunts, and friends surrounded her as she emotionally prepared and reminded herself why she was choosing to lose her hair. “My family has been so affected by cancer,” said Gabby, whose hometown is Attleboro, Mass. “My cousin died last year of leukemia at 22. My aunt Paula [who is here today] survived breast cancer.”

On Saturday, Oct. 22, at the university, 25 students, including Gabby, had their heads shaved by volunteers from Hair, Heart, and Soul in Bristol, in solidarity with those who are struggling with cancer. The event was sponsored by St. Balderick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity that funds childhood cancer research.

Gabby, 18, decided to make the commitment to having her head shaved in the summertime after a friend of hers did the same last spring. While her original goal was $400, Gabby managed to triple that amount to $1,430. 

But she wasn’t alone in breaking a goal. The Roger Williams teams had a goal of raising $10,000, but instead raised a total of $15,337.

Her aunt Paula, a breast cancer survivor, was asked to cut Gabby’s long ponytail, which will be donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, and made into a wig that is distributed to a cancer patient for free.

As the shaver ran over the last tuft of hair on her head, Gabby said, “It’s so cold!” Smiling, she stood up and tearfully embraced her family. “It feels so weird,” she said. “But I don’t want to hide it.”