Despite his numerous entrepreneurial projects and world travels, senior Henry Schwartz is most recognizable for his head full of dreadlocks. But anyone who easily recognizes him for this physical trait will soon need to find another way to identify him.
With 52 dreadlocks on his head, Schwartz is auctioning off each dreadlock for a donation of $100. The donations will go toward a ‘Cut ‘Em For Cancer’ benefit, with the ultimate goal of raising more than $5,000 for the National Brain Tumor Society.
While it may seem a bold move for someone who has worn dreadlocks for the past four years, Schwartz, an entrepreneurship major, said the idea came from simply wanting a haircut.
“I was going to have a dreadlock party and have everyone snip one off, and then I heard of Relay for Life and an organization on campus doing a walk for that, and I thought, ‘Hey, I should just donate my dreads towards cancer,’” Schwartz said. “I know nobody’s really going to want them for Locks of Love, so I thought I’d run this little campaign selling off each one.”
The benefit began March 11 and as of March 24, more than $3,000 had been raised, according to Schwartz.
The idea to create a benefit for brain cancer research was an obvious choice for Schwartz, who has witnessed the devastating effects of cancer since childhood.
Two members of his family have died from brain cancer; his aunt, Paula, died when she was just 18 years old.
Then, in 1991, Schwartz’s father was diagnosed with brain cancer. After an unsuccessful attempt to surgically remove the cancer, his father succumbed to the illness in 1994.
“I don’t remember a ton of it, but I just remember that slowly, he was deteriorating,” Schwartz said. “He made it until the day after my seventh birthday.”
According to the National Brain Tumor Society website, more than 210,000 Americans are diagnosed with a brain tumor every year. The NBTS, a nonprofit organization, funds strategic research, support services and collaboration, and during the past three years, has funded more than $10 million in brain tumor research.
Despite the void created in his life since the loss of his father, Schwartz finds encouragement in the advancements that have been made in cancer research since his father died.
“I talked with a brain surgeon a couple of years ago and he said with the developments that they’ve been able to research [with] the specific type of brain cancer that my dad had, the survival rate has increased 50-fold since 1994, and that’s in a part because of people’s donations to improve research,” Schwartz said.
Along with the ‘Cut ‘Em For Cancer’ benefit and many other projects, Schwartz sells photography from his world travels. Until every dreadlock is gone, 25 percent of the profits from the photos on henrywschwartz.com will go toward the benefit.
Once the benefit is done and his dreadlocks are no longer, Schwartz said he plans on making a dreadlock wig to commemorate the benefit and his lopped-off locks.