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The Blue & Gray Press | September 26, 2017

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UMW Gives Lots of "Locks"

BY JOEY MERKELThe University of Mary Washington men and women’s basketball teams held their fourth annual Locks of Love charity event at Goolrick Gymnasium Wednesday, Feb. 18. The event saw 7 participants, including three women’s basketball players, cut and donate to the program 10 inches of their hair.

Locks of Love, a not-for-profit foundation that started in 1997, works with organizations around the country to gather donations of hair benefit kids under the age of 18 who suffer from long-term hair loss.
The foundation’s mission statement, directly from their website, is to “return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children.”

Men’s basketball Coach Rod Wood plays the issue close to the heart.
“I think it’s important to give back to the community in which we live in and in particular to children,” Wood said. “That’s one of the things that is most important to me.”

Wood explained that when picking charities, Locks of Love was an easy choice to get involved with. After hearing about his niece who had done the program before, Wood contacted the organization to find out what he could do to get involved.

“I think most coaches pick something that is close to them, and it’s usually because they have someone they know that has been effected by it,” Wood said. “I’ve been lucky that I don’t really have people that have been affected by such terrible things.”

“I think children are our most precious commodities. When a child passes away there something inside me that really touches me in a different place,” Wood said.

He then added “I wanted to pick something that, one, had a positive affect on children and, two, that I thought was easy to do. It didn’t take going to and selling candy or doing this or doing that that we could raise awareness and say ‘hey this is something I can do it costs me absolutely nothing’ and what I’m going to give back to a child is priceless.”

Wood has even been able to get his family involved in with this particular charity event. His two daughters, Jenna, 10, and Jolie, 7, have already donated their hair twice, once last Wednesday and two years ago.

Both girls enjoy giving back to kids their age and were disappointed when their hair did not reach the 10-inch requirement last year.
Because of the campus’ high standings in the community Wood feels it is important for the institution to give back to those less fortunate.
“This community needs to give back to those less fortunate. When you are as fortunate as we are on this campus, we need to give back,” Wood said.

Though it is no longer as difficult to find participants, Wood acknowledged that there was a time that people were skeptical to cut their hair.

“The first year, yes, after that no,” he said. “But if you come to the game, there is a visual impact that is made, and it is traumatic for some of these girls to do that, but the feeling they get inside after doing that selfless act outweighs any hair that they lost. The person they are giving it to may never have it back.”

Though time and volunteers are scarce, Wood hopes that one day the charity event will be not only campus-wide but will start getting national attention.

“Now we have to turn people away because we don’t have the infrastructure, the time, to cut. I would like to do one where there is like 100-150 and its just a huge, huge, event. I would like to get to the point where we can have that one rock and roll day where we can just set the world on fire.”


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