When Neya Cherry’s high school (biology) major was chosen to cut her long hair on stage during THON at the age of 11 in 2013, her mother, Kathleen Cherry, said her intention was for Nia to experience THON’s magic, to establish a personal and a strong connection to Penn State and really understand what to give is to live.
A second-year Pennsylvania student from the suburbs of Philadelphia said the plan worked pretty well, and this weekend at THON she and all donors are donating their long locks to Wigs for Kids.
“I remember standing on the BJC stage in amazement looking up at the raised stage,” Nya said. “Bright spinning lights, pounding music, hundreds of college students, Greek characters, dancers and families of four diamonds were exciting places. And it was so inspiring that personal goals were set at that very moment. ”
She said her goals at the time were to attend the Pennsylvania University Park campus, keep hair free of chemicals to donate again as a Pennsylvania student, and continue community service with a better understanding of those in need.
“I am grateful to have been selected to cut and donate my hair to THON Weekend 2022 as a Penn State University Park student, proudly representing the College of Education and the Eberley College of Science,” she said.
“Children with cancer face the unthinkable. Although appearance is not as important as personality, it contributes to a person’s confidence. The child should focus on learning the world and learning new concepts, not on how they look. By donating my hair, I will be able to contribute to this fight in my own unique way. I can always cut my hair, but being able to donate it to a child in need will make it special and give it a purpose. ”
Nya’s previous donations went to children with hair loss, Pantene and children’s wigs.
Her current roles at THON include a rules and regulations committee and a portal closure specialist. She is a Lion Ambassador as well as a member of the Student Council of the College of Education, participates in the Paws project, Friends of Sunny State and is the National Delegate of the Girl Scout 2020-23.
Kathleen Cherry received degrees from the College of Education in 1977 and 1984 (Masters) in Curriculum and Teaching, and received certification as Chief Reading Specialist and Library Media Specialist. She said she retired in 2011 but continued to work instead as a teacher at each of Nya’s elementary, middle and high schools in Metacton School District.
Kathleen had the honor of cutting off Nee on stage in 2013 after she was accepted into the THON hair donors segment. “My daughter’s haircut on stage helped build an even stronger bond between us and strengthened her bond and desire to visit Penn State,” said Kathleen, who continued to cut her hair at a mini-THON in her school district. “The more hair, the more wigs, the happier the kids, and that’s who it’s really about.”
Kathleen will be attending this year’s THON, but not sharp. “We have been coming to THON every year since 2013 to see the haircut segment together. The energy and connection is incredible; I cry every time, ”she said. “I’m sure I’ll cry when Nya cuts 13 inches of her hair to donate hearts and other donors to children in need.”
Nya said her early THON experience allowed her to understand her importance and value as a person by changing the lives of a child suffering from hair loss due to childhood cancer.
“I remember feeling so happy to be able to contribute to this amazing charity event. Previously, my hair was cut and donated five times; once in preschool, primary, senior classes (THON 2013), middle and high school, ”she said.
“I hope the child can regain a sense of confidence that will allow him to continue to fight cancer. No child should have to deal with any embarrassment that may come from their appearance. Although I will not be able to physically see how my hair is giving to the baby, I know in my heart that it will give the baby a special feeling, support and strength ”.