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Three hair cuts for sick kids

Connie Steiert
Shane Macomber/Vail Daily Barber Sandi Plott measures out the minimum length of 10'' of hair on Keegan Hammond to be cut off and donated to "Locks of Love" to make wigs for cancer victoms.
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Most of us do it at least a couple of times a year, many do it once a month. Yet, when was the last time you wondered if your hair might benefit someone else – someone in need?For 15-year-old Keegan Hammond, her long, wavy locks are almost all she thinks about. Rather than obsessing with how her dark brown hair adorns her face, Hammond considers how it will make a child with cancer smile. This month, for the third time in her short life, the Eagle Valley High School sophomore has lopped off her hair in the name of a cause she says has grown dear to her heart. “I’ve seen a lot of people who have cancer,” Hammond says. Her grandmother and a close friend’s father both died of cancer. “It’s such a horrible disease,” she says, particularly for children. “Sometimes other kids laugh at them because they don’t have any hair. They are going through so much already, they don’t need to deal with that.”Hammond was 10 the first time she donated her hair. Her mother, Lisa, was watching an episode of “Oprah” about donating hair to make wigs and hairpieces for people who have lost their hair through disease or chemotherapy. It just so happened that Hammond was thinking about cutting her long hair. “I called her in and said, ‘Keegan, you have to see this,'” Lisa says. “It was such a coincidence.”

The idea caught Hammond’s young imagination immediately, she says. “I thought it would be great to do something about my hair, instead of it going in the trash can,” she says. “It could make some kid’s day.”During that first haircut, when Keegan was in fifth grade, a 13-inch ponytail was removed, and she donated it to the nonprofit Locks of Love. The organization gives wigs to financially disadvantaged children who are under 18 and have lost their hair due to cancer or other medical conditions. In seventh-grade, Hammond donated another 14 inches of her hair.’It will grow back’Now, Hammond grows her hair long just to chop it off and donate it. Each time she returns to Sonlite Barber Shop and owner Sandra Plot.

This time around, Plott estimates Hammond will send a personal record 15 inches of hair in the plain, manilla envelope addressed to Locks of Love in Lake Worth, Fla.”It’s awesome,” Plott says of Hammond’s donations. “She’s so inspiring. She first came to me when she was just 10 years old and said, ‘I’m doing it.'”There are requirements, Plott says. The hair must be clean and undamaged by dyes or chemicals. It must be all one length – no layers – and it must be at least 10 inches long and braided when cut and sent in.The first time she cut her hair for the cause, her friends thought she was crazy, Hammond says, not so much for giving it away, as for parting with the lovely locks in the first place. By seventh grade, when she did it a second time, nine of her classmates joined in. Plott volunteered her time to cut the girls’ hair at the middle school.”It’s just hair,” says Hammond, shrugging. “It will grow back.” When Plott’s scissors finally slice through her thick locks, however, Hammond says it feels strange. “My head feels so light,” she says shaking her new, short hairdo.



Aiming to inspireAlthough Hammond will receive a thank you letter from Locks of Love, she says she would love to be able to put a face to her parted hair. “That is one thing that is disappointing. You never get to know who has your hair,” she says.Haircuts for Locks of Love are not the only way Hammond tries to give back to others, she says. For three years, she volunteered at the Eagle Valley Humane Society and this month, she has turned her efforts to the Minturn Rummage Sale to help out and to raise funds for the athletic programs at Eagle Valley High School. She’s on the volleyball, basketball and golf teams.Hammond is matter-of-fact and modest about her own donations, but she does welcome the media attention.”I want to raise awareness. A lot of kids I know don’t know (Locks of Love) exists,” Hammond says. Locks of Love says 80 percent of its donors are children. Hammond is hoping her actions will inspire her peers to do the same, he says, because it has happened before.

“The last time (Hammond’s donation) was in the newspaper,” Plott says, “a lot of people came in afterward to donate their hair.”Vail, Colorado


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