Leading with courage often includes leading by example. In doing so, you are not guaranteed a positive response from friends, colleagues, managers, and individuals that do not know you. I began shaving my head for a cause I learned about through a dear friend. My journey began in 2004 when Rachel inspired me after she shaved her head to raise money and awareness for children with cancer through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The following year, in 2005, I shaved my head for the first time. My life was forever changed as evidenced through my watershed experience included below. I hope to inspire and motivate you to find your passion in giving back and paying it forward in a way that resonates deep within your soul. 

Begin reading my watershed experience…

Rachel walked into the bar and you could hear a pin drop.  Someone yelled, “What happened to your hair?” Everyone turned to look! 

“Are you sick?” Another person said. 

“No, I walked past VZDs and heard people talking about children with cancer,” Rachel said as her voice cracked with emotion. “I knew I had to shave in support of the kids.” 

I was standing with friends at the local lesbian bar in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 2004. We were all in shock, as no one expected to see Rachel bald. Rachel was a regular in the bar and she was feminine, almost six feet tall, physically fit with beautiful long, black hair, chocolate brown eyes, and olive colored skin. 

Intrigued, I asked, “What event moved you to shave your head? Tell me about your experience.”

She proceeded to tell me and others about her experience down the street. “The event is called St. Baldrick’s Day and it is put on by VZDs to help raise money for research to find a cure for childhood cancer,” she said with passion and emotion. “I started crying listening to the childrens’ stories, and I knew I had to do it. I had to shave,” she said as her eyes welled up with tears. 

“Tell me more about St. Baldrick’s Day,” I said. “Is this an event anyone can participate? If so, how can we get involved?” I asked. 

I signed up as a “shavee” in 2005, as did 30 other lesbians. Rachel’s impact on the lesbian community was felt, and we wanted to impact others in the same way she had impacted us.  Our group was the largest group of women to sign up in Oklahoma City at the time. When I was called to the stage, the crowd went wild. 

I remember thinking, Wow! This is incredible! I was not only filled with excitement but also anxiety because I was not sure what my bald head would look like. I thought, Would it be lumpy? Would it be oddly shaped? How would my co-workers react? Clearly, my vanity was at play!

“Are you ready?” The barber asked.

“I think so,” I said. 

She took the shears and shaved a strip right down the middle of my head. She said with a smile, “No turning back now.” 

I could not stop smiling. I was filled with so much joy and happiness. I watched the crowd and saw people cover their mouths in disbelief! Their eyes were the size of saucers and so many were all smiles! Clapping and hollering ensued when my shave was complete. The crowd energized me! I thought, Wow! This feeling is so liberating. Who would not want to do this as a way to pay it forward? 

I left the stage and talked to some of the people in the crowd. I noticed a woman walking directly toward me. When she was in front of me, I noticed the tears streaming down her cheeks and watched as she reached up, took hold of her wig, and began removing it from her head. She extended her arms, tears streaming down her cheeks and said, “Can I hug you?” “Yes, of course,” I said. 

She hugged me tightly. “Thank you. Thank you so much. You have no idea how much it means to me to see a beautiful woman voluntarily shave her head,” she said.  “I was drawn to you and stood frozen as I watched you being sheared,” she said. “So few women shave. I thought you were beautiful before you shaved, but your beautiful soul is now shining brightly, too.” 

I remember thinking in that moment, this act of kindness, this event, is so much bigger than me. The sight of her removing her wig, tears streaming down her cheeks, and her words had a profound effect on me. I was forever changed in that moment and knew I had to do more.  This incredible woman changed me and helped me realize the immense power I had for putting good into the Universe. 

To hear more, read Blog post 3, The Ripple Effect…