Geraldine’s Curls for Cash raises thousands for Cancer charity

September 2, 2013

After Jonesborough woman Joanne Aydemir, passed away from cancer aged just 37, her cousin Geraldine was more determined than ever to fundraise in her memory – and followed through on a head-turning venture that has generated a whopping £14,562.95 for Friends of the Cancer Centre.

Geraldine, a 31-year-old qualified Occupational Therapist from Crossmaglen, has always been known for her glossy long red hair but she decided to shave it all off in a bid to raise cash.

To a chorus of oohs and aahs, her locks were dramatically lopped off on stage at the event that took place in Clarnagh Maid on 27th July and the freshly shorn Geraldine has set a whole new ethical fashion trend in her home town.

Speaking to The Examiner about her fantastic achievement, Geraldine reveals she was more than a little nervous when it came to actually going for the chop and admits the moment was all the more emotional as her late cousin had vowed to be the one who carried out the shave on the night.

“Sadly, Joanne never made it but I think we all felt her there in some way and doing something like this has helped to keep her memory alive,  to keep her with us.” said Geraldine.

Poignantly, Joanne was represented on the night by her two sisters, her father and her husband, who all stepped in to chop off a ponytail of Geraldine’s hair each. To ensure nothing went to waste, Geraldine donated her tresses to The Little Princess Trust, a charity providing real hair wigs for children across Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, who’ve sadly lost their own hair.

Delighted with the fantastic amount generated from the hair-raising event, Geraldine says she was completely overwhelmed by the turnout on the night, with hundreds of people packing into the venue, some spilling out onto the streets, to show their support for such a worthy cause.

“I figured I might make £7000 or £8000 from the fundraiser but I ended up making that on the night alone!” she said.

She expressed her heartfelt gratitude for the outstanding generosity of local people, whose contributions helped to reach the amazing amount which, she says, will go a long way in helping people like Joanne.

“We should all be proud as a community of what we have achieved in these difficult financial times and I hope that by doing this, there has been a raised awareness of this awful disease” she said.

Adjusting to life with her newly shaved head has been “strange” says Geraldine, and has also led to curiosity from people who are not aware of her charitable sacrifice.

“I keep putting my hair in a towel after a shower or going for my ponytail and there’s nothing there! It’s definitely taken some getting used to and even though I’ve had great reaction from friends and family telling me I suit this new look, I can’t quite see that yet.

“I have had some curiosity from people who don’t know me, who might ask someone in my company if I’m sick or have cancer.  I don’t mind explaining what I’ve done though because I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and surpassed what I ever imagined I could raise so I have no regrets at all.

“I’ve gained an insight into what it was like for Joanne and other cancer sufferers to lose their hair but it’s different for me – I chose to shave mine off.  There are women out there who don’t have a choice and it’s a terrible ordeal for them.”

With donations still pouring in and the final figure still mounting, Geraldine would like to extend her heartfelt thanks to everyone who donated money either online, through sponsor sheets or in person and to everyone who accepted sponsor sheets and posters in their premises.  Special thanks to all the individuals who took sponsor cards and to those who took it upon themselves to carry out collections among their family and friends on Geraldine’s behalf.

She also expressed her appreciation to more than 50 businesses and individuals who donated raffle prizes and a special thank you to Martin Feeney who donated his services creating posters, letters and invites for the event free of charge.

Huge thanks from Geraldine goes to Niall and all the staff at the Clarnagh Maid for hosting the event and making it such a successful evening and to the band Setanta for keeping the crowd entertained until the small hours! Also to all those who helped acquire the auction items namely, Cathal Short, Kevin Foy, Ruairi and Caitriona Daly, Paddy Rushe (Snr), and James, Joe and Sean Daly.

“To everyone who was involved in the night, my big brother Hughie Daly, who did a great job as MC for the event, family and friends who sold tickets on the night, the Cross Camogs for supplying us with sandwiches, and all those who supported me on a personal level before, during and after the shave – I am truly grateful for all your help.”

Claire McAuley, Events & Community Fundraising Manager for ‘Friends of the Cancer Centre’, thanked Geraldine for her “amazing and impactful fundraising idea” saying,

“It is quite an inspiration to see a young woman willing to shave off all of her hair to raise awareness of how exposed and vulnerable people can feel when they lose their hair while undergoing cancer treatment.  Geraldine’s commitment is fantastic and her generosity in sacrificing her fabulous red hair to raise money for others is incredible.

“We wouldn’t be able to continue to make a real and meaningful difference to the lives of thousands of cancer patients and their families across Northern Ireland without fundraisers like Geraldine and we are hugely grateful both to her and to all the people who contributed to her fundraising campaign. They can be confident that their contributions will be well used by Friends of the Cancer Centre as the official charity of Northern Ireland’s regional centre for excellence in cancer care.

“We’re always on the look-out for more volunteers and fundraisers so, if Geraldine has inspired you, please give us a call on 028 9069 9393 to find out how you can help through the charity’s programme … or with innovative, hair-raising schemes of your own!”