Woman offers to shave head for Relay For Life

By William Thompson

A Portales woman will shave her head Feb. 24 if she raises $500 for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at Greyhound Arena. Joan Brown, a math instructor at Eastern New Mexico University said she thought the possibility of shaving her head would raise big-time funds for cancer research.

Brown has collected $50 so far but she said someone has pledged $100 if she can raise just $350 more before the Feb. 24 deadline.

Brown’s relay team is called ENUUF Cancer ! The acronym stands for Eastern New Mexico Unitarian Universalist Church.

“I have a jar in my office at ENMU,” she said. “I have a few scars on my head so it will look interesting if I have to shave my head.”

Brown said her five year old daughter told her she wanted to contribute because she wanted to see her mother “balb”, not knowing that bald ended with the letter d.

Brown decided to raise funds for the relay because she knows someone who died of cancer.

“A friend of mine’s sister died from cancer and it took my friend a couple of years before she could even go places again, it was so devastating.”

A graduate student of Brown’s, Melody Woodbridge, was inspired enough by Brown to offer to shave her own head if Brown raises as much as $750.

“One of my best friends is a four and a half year survivor of breast cancer,” Woodbridge said. “Shaving my head would be nothing compared to that.”

Dorothy Nelson, the American Cancer Society’s community relationship manager for eastern New Mexico, said the money rasied from the Relay Eor Life will go for cancer rearch worldwide and for programs in Portales like “Reach for Recovery” for breast cancer patients.

Nelson, a Clovis resident, is a cancer survivor.
“I know I have benefited from cancer research,” Nelson said. “There is a drug now called Gleevec that is helping leukemia patients, people doctors had given up on. I know there are people in Portales who have benefited from that drug.”

The Portales High School Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter is sponsoring the relay for life. Debbie Stenstrom, the faculty adviser to the chapter said last year’s relay in Portales raised about $30,000.

“We have 30 teams this year, and a few more are going to sign up,” Stenstrom said. “I’m really excited that we have teams from Dimmit, Texas, Texico and Clovis participating in a Portales event.”

Stenstrom said this year’s relay has a “Mardi Gras Mambo” theme.

“There will be a contest for the best decorated campsites inside the arena,” Stenstrom said. “We want teams to decorate themselves however they want. It’s going to be a giant party.”

Stenstrom said relay teams will start walking laps inside the arena at 6 p.m. Feb. 24, and teams won’t stop walking until the following morning at about 9 a.m. Brown said she plans on walking three or four hours because she enjoys walking, but she said most teams have enough members so that each person won’t have to walk too much.

Brown said she won’t be dipping into her family’s savings account to come up with the necessary money for the relay fund drive.

“I don’t want to be bald that bad,” she said.
Event and donation information can be found at the event’s web site: http://www.acsevents.org/relay/nm/portales