(NEW YORK) — The Indianapolis Colts cheerleader who had her head shaved in front of 60,000 cheering fans and a national TV audience had a very personal reason for agreeing to lose her locks to the team’s mascot for cancer research.
“I’ve had family members and mentors [with cancer] and I volunteer at a local children’s hospital and met little girls who lost their hair and saw the bravery that they possess and it was just something that I wanted to do to help reach others,” Megan M. said Monday on ABC’s Good Morning America.
Megan, whose last name was withheld by the Colts as standard team policy, was the sole Colts’ cheerleader to accept a challenge sent out by Blue, the team’s mascot, via Twitter earlier this month to support head coach Chuck Pagano in his battle against leukemia. Megan agreed to lose her locks if Blue could raise $10,000 for cancer research by Nov. 25.
In just weeks, through fans’ donations to the CHUCKSTRONG fund on the team’s website, more than $22,000 was raised so Megan lost her hair at the start of the Colts’ fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. While Megan was the only cheerleader to publicly agree to the challenge, she was joined by fellow cheerleader Crystal Ann in shaving solidarity on gameday, and the two held hands as they both went under the razor.
“The fans were so supportive and just cheering for me the whole entire time and my captain was really great,” Megan M. told GMA of the very public experience. “She tried to call a lot of dances that did not involve a lot of hair whipping around to make me feel more comfortable when I was getting used to it.”
Blue’s challenge to the team’s cheerleaders came after a group of Colts’ players and coaches shaved their heads in support of Pagano, who is undergoing chemotherapy to battle his leukemia.
In addition to Blue’s challenge, the team also partnered with Great Clips earlier this month to offer fans who wanted to shave their heads in honor of Coach Pagano a free buzz cut and a $10 donation to Blue’s CHUCKSTRONG Challenge. All money raised will go to the IU Health Simon Cancer Center, according to the Colts’ website.
Pagano has been absent from the team’s sidelines recently while he undergoes treatment, but was in the stands at Sunday’s game as his team beat Buffalo, 20-13. He received a standing ovation from fans at the game and, according to Megan, has been grateful for the fans’ and the team’s support from the start.
“He was nice enough to send me a text while he was going through this himself, thanking me for doing this,” Megan said. “He’s just a really wonderful man.”
Megan’s hair will be donated to Locks of Love to provide hair pieces for children who have lost their hair from cancer, according to media reports.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio