WEST ORANGE, NJ - Although Golda Och Academy’s Breast Cancer Awareness Club was formed less than two months ago, the group has been working tirelessly to educate and raise funds for the cause. Following on the heels of Sunday’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in West Orange, the club gathered students and faculty together on May 4, during lunch period, where each person paid $2 to watch 10th-grade student Mathan Poller cut eight inches of his hair to donate to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths, helping women who have lost their hair to cancer treatment.

“My hair has been so dear to me my whole life and has become a trademark,” said Mathan. “It is not common for a boy to have such long hair and not everyone welcomed it. Therefore, my hair served as a symbol of perseverance and strength. Letting it go was one of the hardest things I have had to do, but after all, it’s only hair, and there are much bigger problems people have to face.”

Mathan’s mother, Iris, said her son has had long hair since he was a young boy and had a “tough guy” demeanor with an earring and long hair. “But those who know Mathan know he is a sensitive guy with a big heart,” said Iris. “He had been considering cutting his hair, and he knew when he was ready he would donate it.” 

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So, when the Breast Cancer Awareness Club approached Mathan with the idea of cutting his hair to raise money for the cause, he willingly consented. The group also solicited Raymond Robert Salon in Livingston to donate its services for the initial haircut at Golda Och Academy, while Moxie Hair Salon in Fairlawn sponsored the final cut Monday evening to style Mathan’s hair.

Two additional members of the Breast Cancer Awareness Club, fellow 10th-graders Mikayla Talmud and Emily Binstein, are also planning to donate their hair on May 22, though it will be outside of school. 10th-grader Shira Kalet, president of the club, said, “We formed the club not only to donate money, but to educate people to be proactive about their own health and to learn how to help others suffering from breast cancer.”

Combined with the Breast Cancer Awareness Club’s team that participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, the two events raised a total of $1,000. Club advisor and GOA guidance counselor Lori Jaffe said, “In a matter of two months, the club has formed a group of active participants and raised a significant amount of money in two days. They are a very committed and devoted group.”