PlanetHeads of all shapes and sizes will gather for the 14th Annual Planet Head Day on Saturday, March 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Wieden Gymnasium. The event serves as the region’s most unique fundraiser: people have the chance to shave their heads and get them painted as planets in support of patients who lose their hair during cancer treatment. This event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.
The event has “gone international” since 2018, with activities in Szczecin, Poland. This year, Planet Head Day will again occur in Poland, though is scheduled for June and will include significant participation from neighboring eastern Germany, with further expansion in Europe expected in coming years. Major local organizational support is led by UMPI and C-A-N-C-E-R (Caring Area Neighbors for Cancer Education and Recovery) while European support is through several organizations, including a local Rotary Club. The event is also supported by the Northern Maine Museum of Science and NASA New Horizons.
Bringing together space science education and cancer awareness, Planet Head Day is one of the most widely known fundraisers in Aroostook County. In the many years since Planet Head Day was established, the event has seen more than 1,000 participants get their heads shaved so they could have their favorite planet, dwarf planet, or moon painted on their head. The success of the event has raised more than $150,000 in Maine for local cancer education and relief.
All of the money raised during Planet Head Day will stay in the County and help those who have been diagnosed or are currently in treatment. C-A-N-C-E-R strives to help patients with travel expenses and other treatment-related expenses.
“C-A-N-C-E-R is an organization of community volunteers. The help we receive during this event has allowed us to provided services to cancer patients that we hope makes them feel supported in their battle against this horrible disease,” Susan Black, event organizer with C-A-N-C-E-R, said. “I am looking forward to seeing the volunteers for Planet Head Day and meeting all of you who come to support family and friends in their courageous struggle. You are my heroes.”
Planet Head Day will include free pizza provided by the Presque Isle Pizza Hut Restaurant and door prizes. Participants will also be able to receive a personalized Planet Head photo and certificate for their support. Science programs, cancer information, and NASA and C-A-N-C-E-R educational materials will all be available during the event. Heath Bartley will be in attendance with live music. Staff members from Great Beginnings Hair Boutique will be available to provide free haircuts for those looking to shave their heads. Bald caps will be offered for a non-haircut alternative.
Each Planet Head Day in Maine over the past five years has seen more than 100 “PlanetHeads” participate per year, with about half choosing to get a haircut. Over the years, PlanetHeads have included teachers, parents, children, and faculty and students from UMPI. Several businesses and organizations will take part in this year’s event, including the Presque Isle Rotary Club, Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital, and Graves Shop ‘N Save.
WAGM also supports the event with promotion, interviews, and new coverage, which helps spread the word about Planet Head Day. The WAGM-TV news team will be in attendance, also raising money and getting their heads painted by volunteer artists.
In terms of the international celebration, the collaboration between UMPI and Poland came together when event co-founder, Kevin McCartney travelled to Poland in 2017 for his Fulbright research year. During his time in Poland, he had his head shaved in support of Planet Head Day in Presque Isle. This inspired others to establish a similar event in Poland during the same time. Led by Polish Rotarian Micheal Glueck, the Gryphius Institute hosts events leading up to Planet Head Day, which is strongly supported by the Faculty of Geoscience at the University of Szczecin. Funds raised from the event will support the children’s cancer hospital in Szczecin.
For more information about participating in the event or to assist with 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 Planet Head Day, donations can be sent directly to C-A-N-C-E-R, P.O. Box 811, Presque Isle, ME 04769 or dropped off at Wieden Hall during the event.