Jan. 25, 2008
By Sarah Reijonen
She's halfway to a hairpiece.
Assistant women's basketball coach Lisa Mispley Fortier cut off her first 10 inches of hair when she was a junior at Cal State Monterey Bay. Since then she has given approximately 20 more inches to Locks of Love. Her goal was to donate five ponytails until she found out she needed six to make a wig, and now she is well on her way to fulfilling her commitment.
"Since I did it I've read a lot more about the program," said Mispley Fortier, who first heard about the charity from her aunt, a hairdresser. "I can't think of anything better than helping children in need."
The non-profit organization started in 1997 and has helped more than 2,000 children during its 11-year run. The main goal of Locks of Love is to provide authentic hairpieces to children under the age of 18 who have suffered any long-term medical hair loss.
Knowing her hair is going to a child in need makes the process a little easier, but Mispley Fortier said it is still a big change, even after three donations. Some of that change is for the positive, especially when it comes to time management in her daily routine. (This busy coach doesn't have a whole lot of time for blow drying.)
"I use less shampoo and it's just less work," she said. "It used to take 30 minutes to brush out all the knots."
Not only has Mispley Fortier made donating her mission, but she has inspired her players to stop by the salon and go under the knife - well, the scissors. Sophomore guard Amanda Brown recently lost her ponytail and transitioned to a bob for the cause.
While Brown wasn't quite ready to lose 10 inches, she did give up eight inches to Pantene Pro-V's Beautiful Lengths program, which has teamed up with the American Cancer Society to provide wigs to women in need.
"I thought about it a few times before but I never had the guts," said Brown who made the cut Feb. 8. "It's a good thing to do, plus it grows back."
One more women's basketball player will also be losing her blonde tresses soon enough. She just made the appointment for the drastic trim and will debut her new do Jan. 26 when the Bulldogs take on Portland.
"I cut it after my sophomore year of college and one of my family members asked if I donated it," said senior guard Michelle Elliot. "I wasn't even thinking of donating it and so I felt really horrible that I didn't - I've been trying to get it long enough again ever since."
Cancer has had a very real presence in Elliot's life, making her desire to donate even stronger. Elliot's best friend lost her mother to breast cancer in third grade. The GU basketball player faced the deadly disease again in high school when her grandmother was diagnosed. Her grandmother beat cancer, but Elliot just learned of a third loved one going through the battle.
"I just found out that a close family friend has been diagnosed," she said. "My mom recently mentioned [the idea of donating my hair] to her, and she's a brunette right now but she said she's always wanted to be a blonde."
Although Mispley Fortier wasn't originally motivated to cut her hair for a specific person, she can now put a face to a mane. She recently learned that a child of a family friend is one of the many young people benefiting from Locks of Love.
"From what they say, it's such a blessing to have a hairpiece that looks real," Mispley Fortier said.
Mispley Fortier said she hopes this chopping trend will continue on her team and branch out into the community, but the only way to make a statement and lend some hair is to break out the blades.
"It's a good way to spread the word," she said.