Miss Bald Virginia?

September 23rd, 2009 by


Beauty queens are known for their pose, their elegance, their beautiful gowns. They are not typically known for being bald.
But Miss Virginia Tara Wheeler has vowed to shave her head if she can raise $500,000 to support the fight against pediatric cancer.

The pledge was made through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which supports cancer research through donations, corporate sponsors and bald heads.

Wheeler calls her pledge choosing “charity over vanity.”

“It’s just hair,” she told “Good Morning America,” referring to her chestnut locks that cascade past her shoulders. “It’s going to grow back.”

Wheeler said she was contacted by St. Baldrick’s a few months ago to be a guest at an event. There, Wheeler said, she met a college student who had raised $11,000.

“If she can raise $11,000, how much can Miss Virginia raise?” Wheeler said.

So far, she has raised $6,552, according to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation Web site. The organization has raised more than $8.2 million so far this year compared to more than $17.4 million in 2008.

An ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network in Virginia, Wheeler said she’s visited pediatric cancer patients at the hospital and heard how they’ve been teased at school for their bald heads.

Losing their hair is a huge deal for children, or anyone suffering from cancer, she said.

One little girl’s parents told her, Wheeler said, that all their daughter wanted for Christmas was her hair back.

“Now imagine if Miss Virginia visited them and she took off her wig,” she said.

Wheeler said she had to clear her project with both the Miss America and Miss Virginia organizations before agreeing to shave her head. She got support from both, which is exactly what she expected.

“In our pageant,” she said, “beauty is as beauty does.”

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