Giving cancer patients hope

Mount Si High School student Marika Loudenback is entering her junior year with a short hairdo, and the knowledge that her efforts at the Snoqualmie Valley Relay for Life have helped give cancer patients new wigs and new hope.

This past July, the local Relay event pulled in around $90,000 to combat the disease. In addition to raising money to fight cancer, Loudenback organized a “hair drive” at the event through the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program. The teen recruited 10 women to give eight-plus inches of hair, as well as a stylist who donated time to do the cropping. The locks — including Loudenback’s strawberry waves — were made into wigs, to be given to cancer patients free of charge.

Loudenback said she drew inspiration for the effort from a classmate who lost her hair during cancer treatment.

“She’s always optimistic, and always has the prettiest smile. But she said that, if there’s one thing she would like, it would be some hair,” she said.

“It’s important just because there’s so much stress just with treatment and everything, and they don’t need to add on another thing to be worried about their appearance. A lot of people are self-conscious to begin with, even when they have their hair. But to not have your hair, it just adds on to the stress.”

In addition to organizing the inaugural hair drive, Loudenback served as Relay’s youth involvement chair. That meant helping underage participants fill out all the necessary paperwork, and brainstorming youth-friendly fundraising strategies.

“At this age, a lot of people are nervous to knock on someone’s door that they don’t know, so we talked about a lot of group fundraisers,” she said.

To rally youth participation, Loudenback wears Relay gear as often as possible, and encourages peers to ask her about the event, in which she has participated for several years.

Last year, after her grandmother, Jane Loudenback, succumbed to cancer, Loudenback wanted to step up her involvement in Relay through the youth coordinator position.

“Relay’s a big part of my life. I do it every year, and I always donate half my birthday money to it. People know that it’s something that I do,” she said.

“It’s so much fun,” she added. “You almost have to experience it to know what it’s about, but once you do, you’ll never want to not come again.”

• Do you know Valley residents who deserve recognition for their good work? Nominate them for Citizen of the Week, an award co-sponsored by the Valley Record and Replicator Graphics. Send your ideas to, or call (425) 888-2311.

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