Relay for Life advocate contemplates service, dedication

For some people, getting a simple haircut can be a huge ordeal. For junior Coli Bacharach, however, making the decision to shave her head to raise money for cancer research was surprisingly easy. “I saw students doing it last year and I thought it was awesome,” Bacharach said. “I’ve seen so many people suffer unnecessarily and I thought if I could do this small part to help, then why not do it?”

Bacharach has chosen to shave her head at Relay for Life on Saturday, April 5 in front of hundreds of supporters, surrendering to the clippers in the name of curing cancer.

“I just keep thinking about kids that have been confined to a hospital by cancer, living a life they don’t deserve,” Bacharach said. “They don’t have the choice to shave their heads, they don’t do it because they want to; they’re just victims of circumstance.”

“Your entire life can be uprooted by cancer and then on top of that, you have to shave your head. That’s your security, which you now have to get rid of it in the midst of this [trauma],” she said.

Bacharach admitted that the idea of losing the “security” of her hair made her a bit nervous at first.

“As much as I tell myself it’s just hair, it is a little scary,” she said. “People may look at me differently but so what? I don’t have cancer. I’m lucky enough not to.”

Bacharach hasn’t been contemplating this decision all year, rather it wasn’t until after she returned from studying abroad last semester that she decided to part with her locks.

“On the way up [to Geneseo], I told [my family] that I was thinking about doing this and at first I was afraid of what they would say,” Bacharach said. “But they were proud of me and it’s nice to have their support.”

Bacharach had raised over $2,500 within a few months, surpassing her goal and the individual fundraising amount at Geneseo; earning the title of Relay for Life Emerald Individual Fundraising Club member.

Bacharach explained that even in high school she had a passion for giving back. Bacharach has spent much of her time traveling and volunteering all over the world, meeting many children and adults who have struggled to win their battles with illness.

“They have such a spirit about them,” Bacharach said. “And I feel like most of us don’t appreciate our health until something bad happens. I’ve visited hospitals all across the United States and met a lot of great folks who have battled many diseases, including cancer.”

Throughout her time at Geneseo, Bacharach has been very involved on campus; serving not only as editor-in-chief of MiNT magazine, but also as the social and new student engagement chair of Hillel, a sister and service chair of the Royal Lady Knights and a resident assistant in Allegany Hall.

“I’ve had support from every group that I’m a part of, which I’m so thankful for,” Bacharach said. “And I’ve been so humbled by it … even people that I didn’t feel like I had that strong of a connection with have supported me.”

Though Bacharach said she was thankful for the support she’s received for her fundraising efforts, not everyone is totally on board.

“I have friends – really great friends – who still can’t believe I’m doing this and say they could never deal with the societal pressures,” Bacharach said. “And that’s really upsetting: that we would be so afraid of the opinions of others that we would keep ourselves from doing something important that we know will have a great response.”

Despite her incredible accomplishments, however, Bacharach has remained modest and thankful. She points out that contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a “certain kind of person” to make a gesture like this.

“I feel like anyone can make a difference. If you want to do something great, just go ahead and do it,” she said.

Bacharach has upped her goal to $2,650 and is still looking for donations, which will be accepted until Friday.

“I had no idea that we would break everyone’s records with the support I got … it makes it all worth it,” Bacharach said. “I’m ready to be bald.”