DRYDEN — An echoing shout of “three, two, one” rang out across the Nursing Lab at Tompkins Cortland Community College on Friday as the hum of electric hair clippers kicked off a fundraiser for a nursing professor who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Milagros Cartagena and her husband, Storn Cook, were the first to go under the knife, shedding their locks for the benefit of TC3 nursing professor Danielle Johnson.
The “Locks for Danielle” fundraiser raised nearly $1,500 for Johnson on Friday, with seven people making the ultimate sacrifice in shaving their heads and many more opting for trims.
Donations were made at the end of the day to Locks of Love, a nonprofit that provides wigs to financially disadvantaged children struggling with cancer.
Johnson, a single mother of four, was diagnosed with breast cancer a week before Christmas.
Her sister, Denise Traver, said when she found out, she was in shock.
“I immediately lost it,” Traver said. “I was hyperventilating and I thought I was going to pass out.”
“It was a hard hit,” said Wendy Hoose, a former student of Johnson. “She’s a wonderful person. She figures out what the patient needs and she’ll make a fool out of herself just to make her patient happy. That’s probably the most important thing I learned from her last semester.”
Johnson, who has been a professor at TC3 since 2012, was home in Auburn convalescing during the fundraiser, but a stable Skype connection ensured that she didn’t miss out on the festivities.
Johnson presided over each and every shaving, her torso and head superimposed against a pull-down projector screen at the front of the nursing lab.