Story & Photos — Students fight pediatric cancer, one ponytail at a time

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Lisa Romanchick photos

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and a group of Trumbull High students and faculty are marking the occasion with the first Infinite Love’s Mane Event, a hair donation and fund-raising event to benefit Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer. Infinite Love funds research grants for pediatric cancer and has partnered with the town to fight pediatric cancer one ponytail at a time, by raising money and awareness. Its executive director is Trumbull High teacher Jim McCaffrey, whose daughter Mia passed away in 2017 due to rhabdomyosarcoma.

When two seniors at Trumbull High School, Regina Misercola and Maggie LoSchiavo, approached McCaffrey about organizing a hair donation event, McCaffrey saw it as an opportunity to involve the community and set an ambitious goal of raising $30,000 by the end of the month.

“Regina and Maggie were motivated to help and in about a thirty-minute conversation in my classroom, the larger idea came together,”  McCaffrey said. “We wanted it to last a month so childhood cancer awareness could be a central theme.”

Regina, who is president of Infinite Love’s new Junior Board at the high school, said she wanted to donate her hair for some time.

“I know research is a key component in finding less toxic treatments for childhood cancer, and that costs money,” she said. “I wanted to donate my hair as a way to help fund a research grant. We’re fighting pediatric cancer one ponytail at a time.”  

All 15 Trumbull salons are participating in the Mane Event, which started Sept. 4 when eight students got their hair cut at the Jo Davi salon. In all, 42 students and faculty will getting their hair cut this month. The salons will be accepting donations on their behalf.

“The first haircut had such an energy to it,” Regina said. “For me, watching my ponytail come off was about more than getting a haircut. It was about honoring the kids who lose their hair from cancer treatment. I know we all felt it.”

Maggie shared the “more than a haircut” sentiment.

“It’s about getting more people involved in raising funds and awareness for childhood cancer,” she said. “I’m so impressed with everyone’s effort to help initiate change.”

Katherine DiGhello, a childhood cancer survivor and Mane Event participant, may have put it best.

“I am amazed and inspired by the sheer amount of people determined to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer,” she said. “We have the potential to save children’s lives and prevent the heartache that comes with being diagnosed with cancer.”

To donate, get involved or hear more about Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer, contact McCaffrey at [email protected]org, visit the website infiniteloveforkids.org, or follow them on Facebook @InfiniteLove4Kids.

“As long as we have the ability to respond, it is our responsibility to do so, our children deserve more that 4% of the national funding for cancer research,” McCaffrey said. “We would love to get more people involved in our mission.”

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