What would make a 17-year-old girl in Point Pleasant Borough get nine inches of her beautiful hair cut off five days before junior prom?
"I'm doing it in honor of Jordan," said Jaime Williams, referring to Jordan Calabrese, a Point Borough High School senior who authorities say died of natural causes shortly after arriving at a party in Point Beach last November. Friends have said she had cancer.
"She was one of my best friends," Jaime said. "I want to do this for her."
The haircut involved Jaime and a number of other girls donating their hair to be made into free wigs for cancer patients, just one of many activities taking place at the third annual Relay for Life at Community Park on Saturday night.
At least 500 people participated in this year's fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. That's a record high number since the fundraiser started in the park in 2010, according to Katrina Salvatoriello, Point Borough Relay for Life Chair.
Participants, including cancer survivors and family members of those who lost their battle with the disease, will be walking in the park all night until the closing ceremony at 5:30 a.m. Sunday.
Salvatoriello and dozens of other volunteers have been working for five months to make Relay for Life a success. To that end, any donations made through August will count toward this event, Salvatoriello said.
Numerous teams walked and raised money for the relay. One of those teams, including Jaime, calls itself "No Fear," in honor of Jordan Calabrese, who had wanted a tattoo with that message, said her friend, Ashley Wadwell, 18, a Borough High School senior.
"This is my first year doing this, I wanted to do it for Jordan," said Ashley, who, like other team members, wore a blue "No Fear" team shirt.
"Jordan was a great person, she was strong," she asaid.
Ashley acknowledged that while she had not recently been as close to Jordan as some of her other friends at the event, she was devastated for her famiy and friends and wanted to do something to help.
"We want to fight," she said, her eyes welling with tears. "We want to show her that we were there and that we're going to end it. We have to end cancer."
Ashley, on stage at the park while the hair cutting session was taking place, kept checking in on Jaime's progress.
First the hair stylist, Erika Gouldner, of Riverfront Hair Studio, Toms River, measured the amount of hair to be cut and then cutting on a grand scale began. Gouldner and several other stylists from Riverfront and Quality Hair Designers in Bay Head volunteered their time for the cause.
As Jamie was getting her hair cut, she was asked, "How does it feel so far?"
"A little strange, but good," Jaime said, smiling, holding up a sign that said, "In Honor of Jordan Calabrese."
When the hair hacking finally halted, Jaime was trying to adjust to a lot less hair on the back of her neck.
"It looks good," Ashley told her. "You made a wig for someone, Jaime!"
The formation of the "No Fear" team of 30, including 26 high school students and four adults, is a way to pay tribute to Jordan, Jaime said.
"You have to take something tragic and turn it into a positive experience," she said.
Salvatoriello hopes the "positive experience" of this year's Relay raises a whole lot of money for the American Cancer Society so that a cure can be found soon.
One in every two females and one in every three males in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer, Salvatoriello said.
That's a lot more than just a statistic to the young Point Borough High School Math teacher who started chairing Relay for Life events when she was in college and then created one in the Borough.
Her mother, Sally Salvatoriello, was among the survivors who was called during a survivors ceremony in the front of the park on Saturday night. But they have lost other family members to the disease.
Salvatoriello said she and her mother attended a survivors' dinner a number of years ago, inspiring her to be a Relay for Life participant and then chair while she was away at college.
She graduated six years ago, came back home to the Borough to teach, and within five years, with the help of lots of volunteers, had a Relay for Life up and running here.
"It means a lot to see the community come together for a positive change," she said, smiling. "This is a fantastic turnout. We've already grossed more than we did last year."
Last year, the event raised about $25,000, Relay for Life officials had said.
The exact number of participants and amount of revenue generated by the event is all still being calculated, she said.
One of the survivors called to the front was Carly Roncin who suffered cancer of the brain and spinal chord in 2004. She was in third grade.
As Carly went through aggressive rounds of treatment, including chemotherapy, the greater Borough community rallied around her and her family, standing in long lines to contribute to spaghetti dinner fundraisers and otherwise donating to help with medical expenses.
Today Carly's prognosis is good, she is 17 years old, in the National Honor Society, is researching colleges and just got her driver's license.
She and her family had a tent at Relay for Life and were among hundreds helping to raise money. Eddie Roncin, her father, said this is just one of many events where Borough residents come together for a good cause.
"There are a lot of events like this, it's a great community, you just can't beat it," he said.
For more information on how to donate to Relay for Life, see the Relay for Life Event listing in Patch or the Relay for Life Point Pleasant Borough event website page.
For more details about what Relay for Life is, see this page of the website.