When Kristi Savage first learned last fall that one of her best friends had cancer, multiple myeloma, her first reaction was to offer to shave her head in support. It was an offer the Somerville teacher didn’t have to make good on until recently, when a stem cell transplant caused her friend to lose all her hair.
“Everyone who knows me knows I love my hair,” said the Argenziano School physical education instructor, who now styles her hair with a towel. “Everyone knows how important it is for me to have every hair in place.”
Ms. Savage, a Quincy resident who supports Relay for Life as a member of the Cagneys Crawlers team, decided to auction off the honor of shaving her head to the highest bidder as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
“I told all my students before the April school break what was happening in an effort to avoid having to answer too many questions about what had happened to my hair after the break,” Ms. Savage said. “But I still had to tell the story 28 times.
“The students’ response was overwhelming,” Ms. Savage said. All of them offered condolences. Some made cards for her friend. One sixth grader, Sabhyata Sedhain, was so moved, she decided she needed to do something drastic in support as well.
“I couldn’t bring myself to shave my head,” Sabhyata said, looking apologetically at her gym teacher after class recently.
Instead, the 11-year-old girl cut 14 inches of her luxurious black hair at a local salon and donated it to “Locks of Love,” a Florida-based non-profit that fashions wigs from donated hair for children who have lost their hair due to medical conditions.
“They made three wigs out of my hair,” Sabhyata said proudly. She said her family is proud of her decision to donate her hair to such a worthy cause.
“I was absolutely floored when Linda (Manzelli, sixth grade teacher of English Language Arts) told me that Sabhyata had cut her hair and donated it to support me,” Ms. Savage said. “ I cannot even explain in words how touching that is. The response at the Argenziano to this whole thing has been really overwhelming in the best way possible. I always wanted to teach at a school that felt like a family with both staff and students and I am truly blessed to be able to do that.”
Ms. Savage’s auction raised $2,267 for the American Cancer Society.
“I know I will make a difference in the fight to end cancer,” Ms Savage said.