Simultaneous Planet Head Day celebrations will happen in Maine and Poland for the second time as the unique cancer fundraiser—where people get their heads shaved and painted to look like planets—goes international again. The event takes place in Presque Isle on Saturday, March 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Wieden Hall Gymnasium, with a simultaneous event happening in Szczecin, Poland. This is the 13th annual event being held in Presque Isle, and the third time the event is happening in Sczcecin.
This celebration of science education and cancer awareness is co-presented by UMPI and C-A-N-C-E-R [Caring Area Neighbors for Cancer Education and Recovery] in the U.S. and by Gryphius Institute and the University of Szczecin in Poland. Both events, which are strongly supported by local Rotary Clubs, are free and the public is invited to attend.
The international affair came together because of event co-organizer and co-founder Kevin McCartney’s Fulbright research year in Poland. While there in 2017, he had his head shaved in support of Planet Head Day in Maine. That sparked the inspiration to establish a similar event adapted to the Polish environment.
Gryphius Institute, headed by Polish Rotarian Michael Glueck, has held several events leading up to this year’s Planet Head Day in Poland, strongly supported by the Faculty of Geoscience at the University of Szczecin. Planet Head Day 2019 in Poland is the final event featuring many dignitaries from the world of education, health care, administration, and sports in a celebration of science and community service. Funds raised by PlanetHeads in Poland will benefit the children’s cancer hospital in Szczecin.
Because of the five-hour time difference, the head-shaving in Poland will begin at 4 p.m. local time. There will be a short simulcast of Planet Head Day activities in both locations, with McCartney providing an introduction from Poland, where he is currently completing a Kosciuszko research fellowship.
Since the establishment of Planet Head Day, more than 1,000 people have donned theatrical bald caps or had their heads shaved so they could have their favorite planet, dwarf planet, moon, comet or asteroid painted on their head. All told, the event has raised about $150,000 in Maine for local cancer education and relief, and has become one of the most widely known single-day fundraising events in northern Maine. Planet Head Day is the major fundraising event for C-A-N-C-E-R, an Aroostook County-based grassroots organization that assists cancer patients and their families.
C-A-N-C-E-R members have been working hard on planning for this year’s event in Presque Isle. All monies raised during Planet Head Day stay in the County and help those recently diagnosed or who are in treatment for cancer. C-A-N-C-E-R strives to help patients with travel expenses and other treatment-related expenses.
The March 16 event will include free pizza provided by Pizza Hut, door prizes, cake, and games for children. The staff of the Great Beginnings Hair Boutique will be available again this year to provide free haircuts for those willing to shave their heads for the occasion, while “bald” caps will offer a non-haircut alternative for participants. The bald heads that result are in recognition of and support for the many cancer patients who lose their hair during cancer treatment.
Planet Head Day in Maine over the past five years has seen more than 100 “PlanetHeads” per year, with about half opting for haircuts, and raised an average $20,000 per year. PlanetHeads have included community leaders, teachers, pastors, parents, children, and faculty and students from the University. This year, several businesses and organizations—including the Presque Isle Rotary Club, UMPI, Northern Maine Community College, Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital, and Graves Shop ‘N Save—will have official representatives in attendance to serve as PlanetHeads. In fact, at Graves Shop ‘N Save, customers are voting on which planet they want to see employee Don Samiya’s head painted to resemble.
In addition, WAGM has been supporting the event with promotion and interviews that are helping to spread the word. The WAGM-TV 8 news team will be in attendance at the event, helping to raise funds and donning bald caps to transform themselves into planets.
Live emceeing will be co-hosted by Michael Gudreau, who will also have his head shaved to become a PlanetHead, and a WAGM personality. The Presque Isle Pizza Hut restaurant will once again provide free pizza. As in years past, a photographer will be on hand to take before and after photographs of each PlanetHead so participants can have a keepsake to take home. For more information about participating in the event or to assist with the head painting, contact Jim Stepp at 207-554-7837 or Susan Black with C-A-N-C-E-R at 207-764-4647.
For those who cannot attend the festivities, donations can be sent directly to C-A-N-C-E-R, P.O. Box 811, Presque Isle, ME 04769.