Pink hair extensions raise money for mammograms

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COLUMBIA - Guests, patients and employees at MU Women's and Children's Hospital lined up to add pink to their hair on Tuesday.

Stylists from the Hair Therapy Salon in Columbia sold pink hair extensions to raise money for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center mammogram program. The funds will benefit women who are uninsured and not eligible for state or federal programs. Last year the initiative raised enough money to provide as many as nine free mammograms.

"I just happened by because my daughter was here for a doctor's appointment so my granddaughter and I were just walking around and we saw the pink hair and I have three aunts who passed away from breast cancer so I thought I'd make a donation while I was here," donor Connie Sandbothe said.

Hair Therapy Salon owner Kim Olson has helped host this event for the past three years.

"We'd love to be able to double our earnings from last year," Olson said. "Being able to give away 18 maybe 20 mammograms, that'd be great. Last year in the salon alone we raised at least $700 or $800 in pink hair sales so we're hoping to at least double that this year. "

Olson decided to start the program to help others after a loss in her own family.

"I lost my mother about nine years ago," Olson said. "My sister is also a stylist at my salon so it's something that's near and dear to our hearts to do this fundraiser. When they found our mother's cancer it was already fourth stage so I'm a firm believer in early detection as much as possible."

According the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Additionally, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women following lung cancer.

Pink hair extensions cost $15 and can last for up a month. A clip-on pink hair piece can be removed or added anytime and cost $10.

"I'll keep mine in through the whole month of October since it is breast cancer month," Sandbothe said. "People will say 'oh why do you have pink hair?' and you can tell them you have it for breast cancer awareness and that will make them more aware too."

The event continues on Wednesday from 7:30 to 9:30 AM and noon to 2:00 PM at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. Hair Therapy Salon will also offer these styles throughout October at their Columbia location.