Police dispatcher agrees to hair-shedding fundraiser

July 6, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Issaquah Police Chief Paul Ayers takes the first swipe at emergency dispatcher Jacqueline Kerness’ hair, which she volunteered to have shaved off to help raise money for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure breast cancer walk in September. By Chantelle Lusebrink

The Eagle Room at City Hall buzzed in anticipation as police dispatcher Jacqueline Kerness nervously sat down in a chair at the center of the room.

Stepping behind her, poised with a set of buzzing electric clippers, Police Chief Paul Ayers made the first swipe through Kerness’ hair, sending the brown locks to the floor.

“Here we go,” he said, taking a swath of hair from the base of her head. “I think it’s looking good.”

Shedding her hair June 30 was all for a good cause, said Kerness, who bravely volunteered to have her colleagues cut away. She has been interested in helping battle cancer since high school, and she had her hair cut in February 2009 as a donation to Locks of Love, the organization that makes wigs for cancer patients.

This time, Kerness’ colleagues bid to take a turn with the clippers, each time raising money for fellow dispatcher Carma Mathieson to participate in September’s Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure breast cancer walk.

“I have been bountifully blessed with health, so I walk,” Mathieson said. “It takes a huge commitment, because it is a lot of time away from my family, but they support me.

“I’ll do it every year, until cancer is done.”

Both of her parents, Francis Bingham, 70, and Helen Bingham, 73, died from cancer within the past 15 years, she said. Her aunt also died of cancer. She said she has had several friends and colleagues — during her 24 years as a city employee — who have been diagnosed with different cancers and have fought the disease.“I’m just thankful for the air I breathe, and for the support and love I have from my family and my co-workers,” Mathieson said.

Research for “breast cancer is well-funded,” Kerness said, “but I think finding a cure to any cancer is a gateway to finding a cure to others, and that is what is important.”

In addition to their auction, the women baked sweet treats for city officials to purchase throughout the day. Among the sugary confections: chocolate-covered pretzels, Rice Krispies treats, cookies, cupcakes and cakes.

“We have about $400 so far,” Mathieson said.

“Which isn’t bad for just about an hour or so,” Kerness added.

While the buzzing may have been from the clippers, there was no shortage of wisecracks from police officers that wanted to leave Kerness’ hair in shapes akin to bad mohawks and mullets.

Despite pleas from the crowd to leave her hair looking like a bad toupee, officer Robert Hendrickson perfected the buzz cut.

“It’s just hair,” she said. “It is such a simple thing to do to benefit someone else.”

You can help Mathieson raise the $2,900 she needs to walk in the 3-Day by donating at her participant page at the 3-Day Cancer Walk’s website.

How to help

Go to www.the3day.org and donate to Mathieson’s effort here.

On the Web

See video of police dispatcher Jacqueline Kerness getting her hair cut by fellow officers at www.issaquahpress.com.

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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