Eve Gross | Torrey Pines High School Senior
For the teens of Del Mar and Carmel Valley, February was a month of acclimating to second semester or powering through second trimester. But even with all of the school work and demanding activities, many athletes have found time to participate in the HEADstrong Foundation’s Game Hair Havoc campaign, a fundraising effort to provide support to families affected by cancer.
Similar to 2014’s Ice Bucket Challenge, which was created to fund research for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Game Hair Havoc is a social media campaign where people make a monetary contribution and post a picture nominating others to donate. While the challenge intends for people to post pictures of themselves donning a special hairstyle while playing sports, hence the name “Game Hair Havoc” and the use of the hashtag “getstylin,” it has been interpreted by many (especially boys) as a call just to use a picture of themselves playing sports, without the emphasis on hair.
Students took to their Instagram stories, posting pictures of themselves engaging in all sorts of physical activity, tagging HEADstrong Foundation and nominating three more friends to do the same.
“At first I didn’t really know what the challenge was, but it seemed like in the matter of a day my Instagram was flooded with people nominating other people,” said David Vapnek, a member of the Torrey Pines High School lacrosse team. “Challenges like these are definitely an effective way of drumming up support for meaningful initiatives like this one, especially among athletes.”
Social media campaigns are becoming increasingly popular, and the reason why is plain to see. HEADstrong states on its Game Hair Havoc website that athletes are to use their networks to spread the word to different areas, which is exactly what Vapnek did when he posted to his Instagram story, something a few hundred people were able to see.
“I really liked the whole idea of Game Hair Havoc … a lot of girls will just put their hair in a ponytail before a game and call it a day,” Michaela Berenson, who plays soccer at the Francis Parker School, said. “Seeing all these pictures of girls playing sports where their hair is in cool braids or just flying around in the air makes you wonder, ‘What is this challenge all about? Why are people posting about this?.’ And then more teenagers find a modern way to contribute to something important in their community.”
Although not every person who is nominated for the challenge donates to the cause, getting the word out is a donation in its own right, evidenced by the fact that the challenge had spread to Europe and raised $125,000 of its $150,000 goal one week into the campaign. The 2019 Game Hair Havoc challenge ends March 31.