CANAJOHARIE – Nine years ago, Ashlynn Johnson was an elementary schooler cutting off 13 inches of hair to donate to Locks of Love. She also raised $1,000 for breast cancer research in honor of her grandmother, who had recently passed away from a form of the disease.
Fast forward, she is a graduating high school senior ready for her second cut, this time for Wigs for Kids. Along the way, this time, she has been fundraising to defray the wig-making-related costs.
Johnson, who began growing her hair out almost a decade ago, will finally make this ceremonial chop Tuesday — 18 of her 34 inches will be snipped off by a teacher in front of the teen’s peers at Canajoharie High School.
“I’ve gotten trims here and there, but no more than two inches,” Johnson said.
She chose to switch to Wigs for Kids this time around after learning Locks of Love charges patients for their wigs, while Wigs for Kids provides them for free.
It still costs up to $1,800 to construct a wig once hair has been donated, so Johnson has been raising funds to offset that amount. As of Friday afternoon, she had raised raised $2,400.
There are donation buckets posted around Canajoharie for residents to make financial contributions to the cause. They can be found at the high school, Lee’s Shops at Wagner Square, Lee Publications, The Village Restaurant and The Berean Bean. Donations can also be made to a Venmo account Johnson and her mother set up specifically for the fundraiser, just search “@ashlynn-johnson-44.”
Prior to Tuesday’s cut, Johnson will deliver a presentation on Wigs for Kids and its mission.
“It’s really exciting,” Johnson said. “It’s nice knowing you can make such a difference in someone’s life.”
After graduation next month, she plans to study veterinary and animal science at SUNY Delhi. Until then, her community is rallying around her in support.
“Everyone’s really excited,” she said. “People keep asking when I’m cutting my hair and saying, ‘Oh are you going to donate it?’”
Contact reporter Ameara Ditsche at [email protected]. Keep up with her on Twitter @amearaisawriter.