Lose Your Locks is a key fundraising project for The Kids’ Cancer Project – since 2016 it has raised more than $295,000! What we love about it is the variety of fundraisers it attracts, and that each person’s story is so different.
Some have simply said yes to a dare, while others are doing it in honour of a loved one. Some might have a child of their own with cancer; others have never met a kid with cancer before. Here, we profile two women who both lost their locks this winter (and collectively raised a remarkable $70,000) but had very different journeys to this point.
It was a throw-away comment that led Jodie Kelly to lose her locks and raise $20,000 for cancer research in the process.
“Someone remarked that I’d do really well in a fundraiser if I shaved my hair off,” says Jodie. “I’ve always had really long blonde hair, and I guess it’s been a point of vanity for me, so I’d never considered losing it until then. But at that moment, I realised, ‘That’s it, that’s what I can do’.”
Jodie, who lives in the central Queensland town of Middlemount with her husband Nick and 16-month-old son, Nixon, had just had an experience that opened her eyes up to the hardship of having a sick kid in hospital.
“When our son was 10 months old, he had a virus which brought on a febrile seizure. He was absolutely fine, but at the time we didn’t know that, so we rushed him to hospital. I remember feeling such helplessness. But we also realised just how lucky we are to have a healthy child, and that we wanted to give back.”
Jodie had more to lose than Nick!
Jodie’s desire quickly became action. Some web research brought up The Kids’ Cancer Project and Lose Your Locks. “I really liked The Kids’ Cancer Project’s mission statement and the vibe of the organisation, how easy it would be to set up, and best of all, the money goes direct to research - it ticked all the boxes.”
Jodie and Nick began fundraising a few months before their ‘shave date’ of 27 June. Their original goal of $11,000 was met in just two weeks, so they set their sights on $20,000.
“Then the coal mine we worked at had a horrible disaster and it didn’t feel right to push our fundraiser while our colleagues were being treated in the burns unit. So, we just left it for a while,” says Jodie. “But by the day of the shave, we ended up exceeding $20,000, which just shows how generous people can be.”
During their campaign, Jodie’s father Chris joined in, as well as her friend Tegan, so there were four people getting buzz cuts on the day.
Jodie's dad Chris got in on the action!
“Because we far exceeded our fundraising goal, we really wanted to give people a kick out of it, which is why we all went bald. Honestly, it felt just so great to give a part of myself to help others. And I’ve got no plans to grow it back! I love my buzz cut.”
Reneé Rekes and her husband Nicholas got involved with Lose Your Locks to celebrate the first birthday of their very brave daughter, Eva. Their aim was to raise $950, in honour of the 950 kids, like Eva, who were diagnosed with cancer each year. However, they ended up raising a massive $50,000, and inspired the CEO of The Kids’ Cancer Project, Owen Finegan, to shave his head too.
“It’s been so rewarding - it gave us a purpose when we felt quite helpless,” says Reneé.
At seven months old, Eva was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer, Langerhans Cell Hystiocytosis (LCH), which has affected her lungs, bones, skin and other organs.
Eva's dad, Nicholas, got invovled to raise vital funds for research.
“Eva was diagnosed in January and it immediately flipped our world upside-down,” says Reneé, who lives in Sydney with Nicholas and their three children (Eva has two older siblings, Kosta, 5, and Alana, 3).
“At the beginning, I was at the hospital with Eva for weeks on end. None of us could really process what was going on. It’s really only now that we’ve been able to take a breath.”
Since January, Eva has had four different types of chemotherapy treatment at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
“Eva hasn’t had much of a break because her cancer is so aggressive, but she’s such a trooper you wouldn’t even know,” says Reneé. “She has her nausea and her fatigue, but she still wants to play and interact with siblings. In some ways it’s a good thing she’s so young, because she doesn’t know any different.”
Reneé was inspired to fundraise for The Kids’ Cancer Project when she learnt about the research work* that Eva’s specialist at Westmead, the talented Dr Luciano Dalla-Pozza, did through the charity. “I knew any money I raised would go a long way – I just didn’t realise it would be so much!”
Alana helps cut mummy's long hair
When Reneé started her fundraising campaign six weeks before Eva’s birthday, word quickly spread beyond their personal network. Her target of $950 was met in mere hours, and the total just kept growing.
“People we didn’t know were donating, which was quite amazing. Plus, Nicholas works in construction, and as his colleagues shared our story, some companies in his industry made big donations.”
Getting daily donations lifted the family’s spirits immensely at a time when Eva’s cancer wasn’t responding to treatment. “It was a moment of fun when we were all quite down,” Reneé recalls.
Nicholas shaved his head and beard in late May, and Reneé followed with a big hair chop in early June. Their kids helped out with the proceedings – plus there was some special support from The Kids’ Cancer Project team.
Renee's stylish new bob!
“Col Reynolds, the founder of The Kids’ Cancer Project, rang to wish Eva a happy birthday, plus CEO Owen Finegan shaved his head on her birthday!” Reneé laughs. “He was so blown away by our work that he joined in. It was all so sweet.”
The Kids' Cancer Project CEO, Owen Finegan, lost his locks for the cause too!
Thankfully, Eva’s condition has improved since June, and her most recent scan gave everyone hope.
“We’ll take whatever wins we can get,” says Reneé. “She has come a long way, and hopefully her next chemo won’t be so intense.”
Reneé knows that her family have helped other kids get through their cancer, too. “I love knowing that the money’s going to a good place – these are the people I want to support.”
Visit our Fundraising & Events page to register for Lose Your Locks and discover other ways you can get involved. Or contact our fundraising team on 1800 651 158 to learn how you can make a difference for kids with cancer.