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Miss Virginia Shaves Her Head To Fight Kids' Cancer

By jeannesager |

tara-wheelerIn January, she took to the stage in a black bikini to compete for the Miss America crown. This week, Miss Virginia 2008 Tara Wheeler sat down to shave her hair off to help fight kid’s cancer.

She passed her crown on in June, so Wheeler doesn’t need the locks that will be shorn to  hold it up anymore. Instead, she’s turning her head into a walking billboard of sorts for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a national non-profit which raises money for children’s cancer research and treatment.

Beauty pageants are never going to get me out there shaking my pom poms, but is it any surprise that the beauty queen willing to shave her shoulder-length hair has been bucking the traditional girly girl trend all along?

A few cases in point: in the grand tradition of beauty queens giving back, Wheeler toured the state this year for the Children’s Miracle Network. Among her favorite fundraisers? Shootouts with the Virginia Tech men’s ice hockey team and the Norfolk Admirals’ American Hockey League team. That’s because she’s a former goalie for the Penn State women’s ice hockey team.

shaved-tara-wheelerWheeler told FoxSports being a hockey player and a pageant contestant together helped break down walls. “I think it’s good for the Miss America Pageant right now because there’s a lot of negative stereotypes about pageant girls and I’ve found out that they’re definitely not true. So being a hockey goalie means more attention drawn to our program because it’s someone who’s a little bit different.”

In a society where hair is a defining feminine characteristic intertwined with our beauty ideals, I’m going to wager this is an even bigger stereotype buster. And dare I say a better example for little girls?

Let’s start ticking them off, shall we? Beauty comes from within. Check. Give back. Check. It’s just hair. Check. Should we keep going?

Watch it all go down (note the braiding of her hair – the braids were saved to donate to another organization that makes wigs for kids who have lost their hair):

A proud St. Baldrick’s head shaving survivor three times over, I salute Tara Wheeler. And you can too – Team Tara has already raised $31,500, but she’s gunning for half a million.

Image: St. Baldrick’s

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About jeannesager



Jeanne Sager is a freelance writer and photographer living in upstate New York with her husband and daughter, Jillian. She maintains a blog of her award-winning columns at

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4 thoughts on “Miss Virginia Shaves Her Head To Fight Kids' Cancer

  1. Aftercancer says:

    I am not a pageant fan but I am a fan of Ms. Wheeler. when I heard about this last year I blogged about it on my site and made a small donation to St. Baldrick’s as part of her team. In response I received a really great note from Tara, cheering on cancer survivors. If this were the norm for “pageant girls” I just might change my mind. Kate @

  2. [...] Virginia makes good on her promise to go bald for charity. [Video at bottom of [...]

  3. Chris says:

    She is super hot with or without hair. Find me a guy who’d pass on her without hair, and I’ll show you a village idiot. What a great thing to do, and such a great cause! Go Tara!

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