By Merrill Robinson
Caitlyn Sullivan, a student at the University of Mississippi, has put in a tremendous amount of effort to raise money and awareness for children battling cancer in Mississippi.
Sullivan, a junior double-majoring in Chinese and English, is taking action to defy society’s understanding of beauty by shaving her head in order to raise money and awareness for children battling cancer at the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Beauty is no stranger to Sullivan, and she is not afraid to challenge society’s view of beauty. Though not everyone has the same understanding of what beauty is, Sullivan tends to see beauty in all works of life. When she’s not listening to her vinyl collection, she is fearlessly exploring the backwoods of Mississippi with her camera.
“Many of the children battling cancer won’t have the opportunity to lead a normal life like I have had the opportunity to,” said Sullivan. “I’m challenging the idea of beauty in order to make it easier for those girls and boys to lead a normal life.”
She hopes to raise more than $5,000 by the Dec. 5 cut-off date, but will shave her head regardless if she reaches her goal. She will donate all of her hair to Locks of Love, a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.
“Some people don’t have a choice if they want to shave their head or not,” said Sullivan. “I’m choosing to shave my head in order to show them that they’re not alone in their fight.”
Though she does not have anyone she is necessarily donating in honor of, she wants girls to know that she is standing by them regardless of the meaning of what beauty is to society.
A Mississippi native from Jackson, Sullivan has always been involved in the Jackson community due to her father’s involvement in Mississippi politics. Helping people who are in need isn’t anything new for Sullivan; in fact, it’s almost second nature to her.
“Caitlyn doesn’t find personal satisfaction in helping people who need her more than she needs them,” said Allie Strange, a junior at the University of Mississippi studying hospitality management. “She helps them because she knows that they find personal satisfaction from her selflessness.”
Due to her roots in Jackson, Sullivan wanted to donate all the proceeds to an entity that would benefit her friends and family in case such a devastation were to happen to someone she cared about. Since the Batson Children’s Hospital is the only center in the state providing comprehensive care for children with cancer or blood-related diseases, Sullivan knew that it was the perfect place for her to donate.
Batson Children’s Hospital is the state’s only children’s hospital and has over 1,500 children come from the state of Mississippi each year for treatment. The hospital is the state’s only hospital with a Level I pediatric trauma center, intensive care unit, Level III newborn intensive care unit, children’s cancer clinic, rehabilitation center, child psychiatry unit, dental clinic, child development center and surgical facility, a state-of-the-art unit with seven operating rooms.
Although cancer in children is rare, it is the number one cause of death from disease among children in the United States. This ideal hits Sullivan close to home since she has a little sister of her own.
“If anything we’re to happen to my little sister, Sarah, I know that I would want treatment and doctors by her side,” Sullivan said. “I know that by continuing awareness to the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital, they would be able to provide the best care to the Jackson community.”
You can help Caitlyn fight by donating to the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital here.