Student demonstrates passion for fighting cancer, pledging to shave head

Alayna Caifano has worked toward raising her goal of $2,500 for Relay for Life. To reach this goal, she has made the decision to shave her head. Caifano’s inspiration came from her sorority sister, and she credits her sorority Delta Phi Epsilon for its immense support. (Sarah Hashmi/Staff Photographer)

Psychology major senior Alayna Caifano is preparing to shave all of her hair off for Relay for Life. Caifano has spent the past three months fundraising money for the American Cancer Society and is hoping to raise $2,500 by April 8.

Caifano’s sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, has influenced her greatly; this includes not only in her experience at Geneseo, but also in inspiring her to make the decision to shave her head.

“One of my sorority sisters two years ago at Relay for Life shaved her head and that’s what inspired me to do it,” Caifano said. “She’s been a huge help throughout this process” 

While Caifano is well established on the campus as a teaching assistant for a psychology class and a member of the executive board of Liberty in North Korea, her sorority has helped her to get out of her comfort zone.

“The reason I got into this was because of my sorority,” Caifano said. “That helped me branch out, make a lot of friends and make more connections with people” 

Caifano has a passion for helping others and for charity work, which is in addition to the service she already does with her sorority. Valuing charity is another driving factor in her decision to participate in Shave for the Brave.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, because I’m very passionate about charity work,” Caifano said. “It’s something that genuinely feels good.”

In preparation for April 8, Caifano has reached out to family and friends for donations so she can reach her goal.

“People tell me that they can’t believe I’m doing this; ‘I could never do that,’ but I don’t really think it’s such a huge thing,” Caifano said. “Hair grows back. For me, it’s a small sacrifice I can make in order to raise a good amount of money for something that means a lot to so many people.”

In her own personal experience, Caifano has had family and family-friends who have passed away due to cancer and she has seen the effect it can have on others.    

While raising the money has been an incredible experience, at times Caifano found it difficult to stay organized and to reach her goal.

“I was really nervous about it for a while,” Caifano said. “I kept going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to do it because it’s such a commitment to make. You have to stay on top of fundraising; you have to commit to pretty much begging people for money.” 

Not only did Caifano raise money through her Facebook page, “Alayna’s Going Bald for Relay!” she, along with her sorority sisters, have thought of many creative ideas for fundraising.

“My sorority has been so supportive of me,” she said. “They helped me organize fundraisers, they promote my link on Facebook all the time—they’re really the ones that gave me the confidence to do this.”

To raise money, they sold food outside of the Statesmen and implemented a Venmo campaign where people can donate money, which Caifano then matches. Caifano also plans on bringing her dog, which people can pay to meet. 

“I’m offering up to the highest bidder to come up and shave part of my head,” Caifano said.

Caifano and her fellow sorority sister, psychology major sophomore Caeley Sheehan, are planning on shaving their heads together on April 8.

 “I don’t know anybody who hasn’t had somebody affected by cancer, so it’s really something that’s relatable to everyone,” Caifano said. “It’s a very emotional night, but it’s definitely one of my favorite nights of the year.”

In the future, Caifano has considered pursuing social work, teaching or counseling.

“I just want to help people,” Caifano said. “This has given me a renewed passion for fundraising and non-profits and charity work. It’s something I’d like to continue doing in the future.”