By KIRAN MALIK-KHAN, Connect Contributor
She was two-and-a-half years old when her hair started falling out. For Kali MacDonald, this meant being “not pretty,” giving her father an idea that would become a campaign known today as Hair Massacure. The Edmonton-based charity was in town on March 2, 2016 to raise funds for the 14th annual event at Peter Pond Mall. The group raised $11,000 in cash and over $24,000 from Save-On Foods in Stoneycreek Village. An estimated 40 individuals shaved their heads in support of the cause.
Diagnosed in September 2000 at age two with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Kali went through three years of chemotherapy daily, finally going into remission till date. She celebrates her 18th birthday this May, graduating from high school this summer.
Kali’s dad, Gord MacDonald, founder of Hair Massacure shares the event’s history going back to that day.
“When Kali started crying I laughed to distract her, and she said ‘don’t laugh; I’m not pretty.’ So I said, would you like daddy to shave his head too?”
The first event was held at Canada Post on February 14, 2003, where 48 people shaved their hands to show solidarity for children with cancer, and raised $37,000. Thanks to Kali’s mom, Tammy MacDonald, Hair Massacure has become a media darling in Edmonton with satellite events in Fort McMurray, Red Deer, and Calgary, Grande Prairie and Lethbridge as of 2009.
Last year the group raised over $1.2 million, which is equally divided amongst their two charities of choice: Make a Wish Foundation Northern Alberta, and Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Formerly known as St. Valentine’s Day Hair Massacre, in 2006 the event moved to West Edmonton Mall.
“I left my career as a Naturopath to support the campaign full-time. I as well switched charities, moving to the Stollery as I had felt that paediatric cancer research was far too important. That year they implemented a project headed by renowned Dr. Shairaz Baksh Ph. D. AHFMR Scholar,” shared Tammy.
“The same year (2006) I had introduced the pink campaign hoping it would take off with flying colours and indeed it did! Many children and schools gravitated towards the concept as it was edgy, fun and a bit more of a challenge than just a head shave. We made the Guinness World Records that year.”
Affectionately known as “victims,” 840 individuals participated that year with $274,000 raised, the event was dubbed, “World’s Largest Head Shave at the World’s Largest Mall” and earned Hair Massacure the Guinness record for the “most heads shaved under one roof in a 24-hour period.”
“I have very good corporate support such as McDonalds, Pattison Outdoor Marketing, West Edmonton Mall, and media partners such as CTV, Global and CISN Country who has been our large sponsor for the past 10 years. Having known Kali’s story, the event seemed to attract support much easier as Kali was widely publicized as a Miracle Child for the Stollery, poster child for Make-A-Wish and Kids With Cancer Society as well as a special little ambassador for the Alberta Red Cross,” added Tammy.
“In 2009, I expanded Hair Massacure to Red Deer, and Calgary, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Lethbridge personally ensuring support in each area. This was possible to do so with the support of our largest sponsors Save On Foods and Rona who insisted that all of their stores provincially would support the event, ensuring awareness and collecting funding through the sale of Kali Bear icons, Kali Bear Pink and Pink Hard Hats.”
Gord, who was in Fort McMurray for this year’s event was touched by everyone’s generosity. And, said despite a slow economy Albertans never disappoint.
“We are well on our way to one million dollars this year. Albertans are always quick to reach in their pockets. The good will in our province is phenomenal. Because, despite the economy, children still get cancer,” said Gord, who works for Honeywell as a fire alarm technician.
And, while the MacDonalds, who have five girls, separated 10 years ago, they remain best friends, and continue to work on the campaign.
“It is my vision to have awareness throughout the province as Albertans need to know that we have one of the highest rates of childhood cancer in the country, particularly in northern Alberta. Funding cannot be possible without awareness. Our children are dying and we need to act. Still one out of three children will not survive their battle – over 25 years ago, Leukaemia was a death sentence. Research has come a long way, however we aren’t there yet. Paediatric research critically needs funding,” said Tammy.
For more information, or to donate, visit: http://hairmassacure.com/northernab/