Clippers were busy and hair was flying around the Mayfield Middle School auditorium on Thursday as seventh-grade students gathered to show support for cancer patients and supply donations for wigs.
This is the fourth year for the event, started by social studies teacher Adam Yasenosky as a tribute to his mother, who died of cancer 12 years ago. This year's effort was also dedicated to his mother-in-law, Pat Miller, who is undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer and was unable to attend because of a scheduled chemotherapy session.
To illustrate how many people have been affected by cancer, Yasenosky asked the 315 seventh-graders how many knew someone who had cancer.
"Better than 70 percent have been affected by cancer," he said. "I understand that it's difficult to be a friend or a family member of someone who has cancer. That's what this event is all about."
Hairdressers from Michael Christopher Salon and Jax Hair Salon gave haircuts to 96 students, with many heads being shaved and 23 girls with long hair donating their ponytails to Beautiful Lengths to make wigs for cancer patients.
Kim Tropf helped connect Yasenosky with the Beautiful Lengths project. Tropf, a cancer survivor, was involved from the beginning four years ago. Her daughter, Kaitlin, was in Yasenosky's class.
Tropf was a hairdresser and was familiar with Pantene, which works with Beautiful Lengths to create wigs for cancer patients. To make a wig, six ponytails of hair, each 6 inches long, are needed.
"I never thought I would be one who needed a wig," Tropf said.
She was excited to see how the event has grown and grateful for the support from students.
"Who would have thought that it would be this big. I'm amazed," she said, looking over the hundreds of students in attendance. "This is phenomenal. I'm so proud of these kids."
Parent Alicia Korosec proudly watched as her daughter, Nicole, was getting her hair cut for a donation.
"I think it's great," Korosec said. "She's doing this for me. I'm battling cancer."
Carrie McCartney also donated on behalf of a family member. "My grandfather had cancer," said Carrie, who admitted to being a little nervous about how her new, shorter hairdo would look.
The students' enthusiasm was infectious to Paula Valentino of Michael Christopher Salon, who said she had the most fun she's had in 12 years as a hairdresser.
"It's been an amazing day," she said. "I was cutting mohawks. I cut stripes into someone's hair."
In addition to more than doubling the number of students in attendance, the event also set a new record by raising more than $2,000 for the American Cancer Society. Participants were thanked with goodies donated by Fantasy Candies and T-shirts supplied with donations from Hillcrest Hospital.
Yasenosky, who started the event partly because he was sick of seeing boys with long hair and made a bet in an effort to get them to cut their hair, said he's pleased to see what it has become.
"It was just so well received from the beginning," he said.