Roots of charity

Kimihiko Nomura

Photo By Jason Cassidy

Chico State professor Kimihiko Nomura is hoping his 3 feet of straight, black hair will bring in nearly $20,000 for cancer treatment. The Japanese-born father of two teaches English as a second language, plus Japanese language, culture, film and music, and was chosen as Outstanding Professor of the 2006-07 school year. On Sunday, May 13, he’ll be stepping on the campus’ BMU Auditorium stage to have his hair shorn as part of a public cancer health and awareness event, Inch by Inch: Sustaining Health Across Cultures. He’ll cut off one inch for every $500 raised, with the money being donated to Enloe Cancer Center’s Cancer Connections, and a portion going to Japanese scholarship programs and the university’s Foreign Languages and Literatures Department. The hair itself will be donated to Locks of Love, the nonprofit that makes wigs for chemo patients.

How long have you been growing your hair out?

Four years ago I decided to do this, just for this purpose.

What was the impetus for this?

Because in the department, [we] started seeing colleagues suffering from the disease and going through treatment and recovery. And we lost a colleague—Steve Rivas. A friend of mine did [a] hair donation. He had beautiful hair. I thought it was a wonderful thing that a person like myself, who doesn’t have money, can contribute in some little way. Originally, it was about donating hair. But during the course I start[ed] thinking about raising awareness of the fact that each one of us can make a little contribution which makes a big difference in someone’s life. I am more than happy to go bald, if the community makes me. It is my challenge to the community: Can you make me bald?

Do you have any idea of what’s been donated so far?

As far as I’m aware, $1,000. The Raw Bar is so far the biggest donor. That is called “gold sponsor.” And in response so far, about five people have volunteered to join to donate hair. Isn’t that wonderful?

Has having long hair changed you?

I do not think it’s changed my personality or changed me, just the outside maybe. More than that, interestingly, is that people’s perception of me changed. Around here [at chin length], positive comments. Here to here [from chin to shoulder], positive comments and negative comments. And, here and on [from shoulder down], the majority of comments are negative.

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