STEPHENVILLE — "Just because I have no hair, it doesn't change me as a person."
Those were the words of 14-year-old Keisha Perrier posted on Facebook just days before getting her long hair shaved off at the Stephenville Relay for Life on Saturday.
"Yeah, my hair is long ... I am getting it shaved off in four days. If you want to judge me for that ... Go for it!" the young woman said on the social media website.
Perrier's long tresses are going to help others through the Locks of Love program, and while she was proud to be donating her hair to those in need and raising money at the same time for cancer initiatives, she said he main motivation was her family.
"My mom has dealt with this for eight years now and I was standing right there behind her, but I couldn't stop the pain... It made me worry, but I know my mom is the strongest woman I have ever known," Perrier said.
She said at least she can make her mom, Carolyn O'Quinn, proud and hoped donating her hair to cancer did just that.
Between the money that Perrier raised prior to the event and what was raised at the relay on her behalf while having her head shaved, she collected a total of $1,315 for the cause.
Another $878.91 was raised through a ladder climb that Wanda Griffin, co-chair of the relay committee and committee member Liz Porter took part in.
With those amounts and all that was raised by the 24 teams involved and the sale of luminaries, Deb Jones, co-chair of the event, said the total was $72,570.92 raised this year, up slightly from just over $72,000 last year.
Jones said there were 121 survivors registered for this year's relay, up from the 108 last year. Luminary sales were up a bit as well with 1,452 this year up from 1,435 last year. She said to tally a larger total and with one team less than last year was excellent.
Cancer survivor Glenda McCann had strong words of encouragement for those in attendance at the survivors' social and luncheon.
"Live each day to the fullest," she told those in attendance, and related her journey of doors opening and closing that started in August 2003, with what she thought was a fly bite, but ended up being breast cancer.
She said what she went through has certainly been an "eye-opening" journey and she now lives with a motto of "eyes open in the morning ... little feet on the floor ... bless herself ... thank God for another day and bring it on."
After a barrage of chemo and radiation treatments leading to her being in remission, she returned to work teaching in September 2005 and has been working since and is looking forward to retirement in December 2013.