Triad students, including Audra Millice, center, participated in a haircutting event Friday morning in support of Calie McDaniel, a freshman battling cancer. Participants measured their hair with orange rulers, held orange balloons, and wore orange ribbons to advocate for McDaniel and others fighting Leukemia. (Journal-Tribune photo by Kayleen Petrovia)
Triad students filed into the gymnasium Friday morning for a pep rally, this one in support of a single student instead of the athletic teams.
In front of a full audience, students and staff members lined up to donate their hair in support of Calie McDaniel, a freshman battling cancer.
It was an act of charity sparked by McDaniel’s own selflessness.
McDaniel was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia on Oct. 9. Before she began her treatments, she decided to donate her own hair to help others who have lost theirs.
Carriage House Salon owner Natalie Moore said it quickly began a ripple effect that is still growing.
After McDaniel donated her hair, Moore and Caelie Flora, a friend of McDaniel whose mom works at the salon, asked McDaniel to cut their hair for donations, too.
Since then, Moore said she has seen “people coming in left and right” to donate their hair in solidarity with McDaniel.
The outpouring of support was so strong that Moore began a campaign called “Calie’s Cuts,” which has encouraged between 40 and 50 hair donations in the weeks since it began.
“It’s just amazing to see,” she said. “I used to babysit Calie when she was young and she’s like my girl, she just has such a piece of my heart.”
Maddy Collier, McDaniel’s sister and a 2018 Triad graduate, said people also began reaching out to her to ask where they could cut their hair for McDaniel.
“We had so many people contacting us that we just thought, ‘What if we bring it to the school?’”
In response to parent and student requests, Triad Superintendent Vickie Hoffman said she reached out to Moore and asked if her salon would be willing to sponsor a school haircutting event.
“I just told her, ‘I know this is probably an idea you’ve never thought of before, but what if we could just do one big haircutting thing here?’” Hoffman said.
Moore immediately agreed and, although she’d never hosted anything at a school, she said she wasn’t surprised by how many people wanted to participate.
“Calie is just such a good girl,” she said.
Ali Cox, a Triad student, said she didn’t hesitate to sign up for the event.
“I’m nervous, but I know it’s going to a good cause,” she said before getting 12 inches of her hair cut.
Following a drumroll, Cox and 14 others cut their hair or shaved their heads while the video was live-streamed to McDaniel in her hospital room.
The crowd erupted with cheers as each donor was given an orange ribbon, the color that represents Leukemia, in exchange for their ponytail.
Later in the day, haircutting events were also held at the middle and elementary schools, where younger students showed their support.
Mandy Alexander, McDaniel’s aunt, said the event was just one example of how Triad, and the community beyond, have come together to support her niece.
“The community support has been amazing – really just overwhelming,” she said. “I’m so glad we live here and are part of this community.”
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