WMU student going 'bald' to raise awareness, funding for cancer research
KALAMAZOO, Mich. —
On Friday, Oct. 19, people across the country will be making a bold statement by going bald.
“Be Bold, Be Bald” looks to bring awareness to different types of cancer and to raise money for organizations that support those battling the disease.
Three-year-old Ady Kuiper has been through a lot over the past year. Her parents, Amy and Andrew Kuiper, have seen the good days and the bad ones.
“Some days,” Andrew Kuiper said, “the only thing worth getting excited about was a Disney princess visit.”
That’s because every time his daughter saw those princesses, their magical hugs seemed to make her cancer disappear.
“If a child gets excited to see you, you know that, that’s why you’re there,” said Audrey VanEssen, a Moment of Magic chapter president. “For just that split second, they’re not thinking about their chemo, they’re not thinking about the pokes and the doctors’ visits. They’re thinking about that moment and the magic you’re bringing to it.”
VanEssen met Ady while dressed as Princess Anna, one of the main characters in Disney’s "Frozen." She is one of many students who, through the nonprofit Moment of Magic, dress as characters from a fairy tale to visit children with pediatric cancer or medical vulnerabilities, either in the hospital or at their homes.
“We’ve seen her go from being this little shy girl to this really talkative, singing and dancing … just warrior,” VanEssen said of Ady. “It’s really cool to see that progression and see that growth.”
On Friday, instead of a ball gown and braids, VanEssen spent the day in a bald cap in support of Ady.
“That’s their reality 24/7. So, even if we can show that support outside of those visits and to be wearing a bald cap and saying, like, I recognize that you are going through this, but you don’t have to go through it alone.”
VanEssen said she anticipated getting some looks, questions and even nerves, but that’s when she’ll think of her fearless friend Ady, the pint-size warrior princess who taught her you don’t need hair to be brave.
Ady has been in remission since January and will be on maintenance for another 19 months. Her hair is also starting to grow back.
WMU students don character costumes to spark smiles among pediatric cancer patients