left to right: Laura-Lee MacDonald, Caeleigh MacDonald, Helene Hutchings, Rowan MacDonald, and Maddie Hille Photo credit: Farah Khan

Hair Donation Ottawa’s 9th annual fundraiser for the CHEO Foundation held at Algonquin’s Salon raised over $100,000 for childhood cancer research Sunday, Sept. 22.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and so the event was held to create awareness and raise funds for childhood cancer research as well as create free wigs for children suffering from hair loss. With the help of dozens of volunteers including several Algonquin students, CHEO Foundation’s first year running the event was a huge success.

Hair Donation Ottawa has been organizing the fundraiser for the past eight years, however, for the first time ever, the founder of Hair Donation Ottawa Helene Hutchings passed the torch on to the CHEO Foundation to organize its 9th annual fundraiser.

“It’s a rare thing for CHEO Foundation to take on an event, and this event definitely had room to grow,” said Lydia Blanchard, the director of community engagement. “We were not ready for it to be done just yet.”

Marie-Josee Lebel (stylist) and Julia Fortey (Design Professor and Research Chair) Photo credit: Farah Khan

Algonquin students from hair styling, bartending, event management and photography all played a role in making the event a success. Students had the opportunity to learn and apply their skills while volunteering for a great cause.

“Algonquin has been getting more and more involved over the years, and this year we’re seeing a lot of the different departments engaging with us,” said Blanchard.

Not only were funds raised to support children with cancer, each year Hutchings would set aside two $500 bursaries for Algonquin hair styling students in financial need. Algonquin has played an important role with the foundation over the years and the organizers recognize that.

Blanchard said, “we’ve kept that [the bursaries] because Algonquin is such an amazing partner.”

Karen Duquette (client) and Bruce Saikaley (stylist) Photo credit: Farah Khan

Everyone from the children to adults were excited to be a part of the fundraiser which raised a total of $104,147 and surpassed all numbers from previous years.

Hairstylist, Emanuela Latin was thrilled to be there. “We are so, so happy that the turn out has been unbelievable. We have people donating 10 inches, 13 inches, all sorts to support,” she said enthusiastically.

Hutchings was thankful to the organizers and Algonquin College. She tearfully shared a few words of gratitude, “Thank you from the very bottom of my heart for making a difference in the lives of people you’ll never even know.”