Columbus hosts hair-raising event to support cancer patients
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — An annual event, Columbus Catholic Schools began Cutting for a Cause because one of their own lost her battle to cancer. Barbara Billings was the principal of Columbus High School/Middle School before passing away in 2011 from ovarian cancer. Cutting for a Cause is held on May 4, the anniversary of Billings’ death.
At Cutting for a Cause, students volunteer to donate their hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which makes wigs for women enduring cancer treatments. Wednesday’s mass cutting marked the third year Columbus held the event.
Columbus Middle/High School Principal Steven Van Wyhe, whose two daughters donated hair this year, said that the event has taken on extra meaning with Columbus junior Ryan Dieringer having battled cancer. Van Wyhe said Dieringer “was found to have no evidence of disease at his last checkup.”
“To teach our kids that lesson about being willing to help out those in need whatever way you can, I think is the message we want to instill with kids, and it’s great to see some of our students who are in this case giving their hair to support those in need,” Van Wyhe said.
Columbus 10th- and 12th-grade English teacher Mandy Volkman, who organizes the event each year, said she and her daughters had donated their hair prior to the advent of Cutting for a Cause, and she wanted to share that experience schoolwide.
Volkman said when she first brought the idea to students, “I had a huge response.” Twenty-six students volunteered to have their hair cut the first year, 39 the next, and 35 this year. Stylists from local businesses volunteered their time to give the haircuts.
“I love the fact that I have so many kids that step up and do it,” Volkman said. “It’s great to see.”