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Deerfield Combats Cancer
Lillia Brooker '19 Staff Writer
May 26, 2017

On Thursday, April 20, the sound of scissors snipping and razors buzzing radiated through the dining hall foyer. Students and faculty alike ran their hands over their heads with surprise and laughter on their faces. Over three hundred people crowded around waiting for their turn. For every head shaved, or at least four inches of hair cut off, the Hale family donated 1,000 dollars to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to benefit pancreatic cancer research.

Brett Hale ’18 explained that since her grandfather passed away from pancreatic cancer, her family has been passionate about raising awareness about the devastating disease. Brett said that her family started the Saving by Shaving initiative in hopes of involving “as many people as possible in fighting this lethal disease.”

Credit: Deerfield Academy

Brett observed that the event brought the whole school together. After noticing the event’s success at Deerfield two years ago, the Hale family wanted to organize the event again this year. “Everyone was in such high spirits after, and I think for the people who participated in the event we all felt connected to each other through our hair. It has always helped to comfort people who know loved ones fight cancer, and after [the event], they know they have a whole community supporting them,” Brett stated.

This year, 356 people participated in the Saving by Shaving event, which raised $356,000 in total. Hale stated, “The fact that 356 people were willing to shave/cut their hair shows how special Deerfield is.”

On April 27, DA gathered at the track for a Cancer Connection fundraising event. For every completed lap, one dollar was donated to Cancer Connection in Northampton, which helps individuals and families affected by cancer. Following the “survivor lap,” hundreds of students and faculty walked the track. Students in the Cancer Connection planning  committee sold Richardson’s ice cream, with profits going to Cancer Connection. Games and raffles also took place.

Lily Horowitch ’17, a student leader on the Cancer Connection committee, commented, “So many people at Deerfield have had loved ones affected by cancer and it is [a topic that is] close to everyone. Cancer can be hard for families and friends to deal with, and Cancer Connection provides a space for them to process everything. What is so special is that all of their services are free.”

The event raised awareness in addition to funds. Horowitch explained that the Cancer Connection event was their “only fundraiser [this year] because the [Center for Service and Global Citizenship] tries to focus more on awareness to stay away from people handing over their Greer cards without thinking about the cause.”

Assistant Director of the CSGC Heather Wakeman also believes that community participation was crucial to raising awareness. The CSGC chose “a local organization so it could have more of that community engagement and personal feel.” At the event, Ms. Wakeman not only saw a “clarity of purpose,” but also “a lot of people enjoying themselves in the process.”

In addition to the impacts both events had on cancer research and anyone affected by cancer, the events impacted the Deerfield community. Ms. Wakeman hoped that “students walk away…thinking about the questions ‘what is my purpose?’ and ‘what am I excited about?’ or ‘what problems or global issues do I want to contribute to solving?’” Ms. Wakeman believes that these events on campus prompted students to become “civically engaged and [think] about how and why to do so. [Civic engagement among students] is something I’m really passionate about and hope continues.”