Crystal Green bunched her shoulder-length locks into the last ponytail she’ll have for a while.
“Don’t change your mind now, baby,” Green cooed, encouraging her 8-year-old daughter Hannah — hairless from chemotherapy — to grasp the shears and cut.
Within minutes, mom and daughter were a matching pair: bright-eyed, beautiful and bald.
About 60 area firefighters and others shaved their heads Saturday at Charisma Salon in west Wichita to raise cash for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven organization that supports childhood cancer research.
Wichita’s head-shaving event – in its fifth year – is sponsored by the Fools of Oz, the Wichita Fire Department’s fraternal organization of Leatherheads. It’s the first of several events to benefit the foundation scheduled across Kansas this spring.
Robert Kerschen usually wears his hair short. But he, like other Wichita firefighters, for months had delayed getting a trim.
Longer hair “drives us all crazy coming up to the event, but we know it’s for a good cause,” he said.
Rick Patterson, sporting a newly shaved head, agreed.
“We do it in solidarity for the children who are going through the cancer,” the firefighter said. “With us, it’s fun and it’s empowering that something as quirky as shaving our heads means so much to them.”
For Green, 34, shaving her head means she’ll share some of her daughter’s hardship. Two years ago, Hannah started treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare muscle cancer.
Immediately, her long brunette tresses fell out.
“It was pretty devastating for a little girl” to lose her hair, said Green of Udall, a single mother of Hannah and 11-year-old Breckin Morgan. “She didn’t have the ponytails and the curls like the other little girls.”
On Saturday, when Green’s haircut was done, she gathered her daughter into a tight hug.
Hannah grinned and rubbed her mom’s bare head.
“It shows her that I’m willing to do whatever I can to show her that I will go through all of this with her,” Green said. “She’s got me by her side 100 percent.”