As a Lombardi Award winner for the top college linebacker and a two-time All-American during his time at Ohio State, A.J. Hawk is well known by fans around the Buckeye state and equally admired as a current linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. And for many years, he was as widely known for the long hair streaming from beneath his helmet as for the many football accolades he has received throughout his storied career.
But in 2012, A.J. cut his signature locks and with his wife, Laura, started an organization called Hawk’s Locks for Kids to raise money and collect donated hair for children who have lost theirs due to chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. But A.J. stresses that this wasn’t just about physical appearance.
“When kids lose their hair during cancer treatment, it’s not just a change they see in the mirror. Suddenly they feel different, which can negatively affect their self-esteem as well. We want them to see that there are so many people out here to help them with physical and emotional support as they go through that process.”
While at Ohio State, A.J. became familiar with Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute through news stories and visits with patients coordinated by former Coach Jim Tressel and the Athletic Department. But it wasn’t until his first Buckeye Cruise for Cancer, an annual four-day cruise hosted by Travel Partners in Dublin that brings dozens of Ohio State athletes together with fans from all over Buckeye Nation, that he saw how far support for the OSUCCC – James stretches.
“We heard so many amazing stories about the care and research going on at The James that A.J. and I knew we wanted to be a part of it,” Laura says. “It was there that we decided to transition Hawk’s Locks from supporting just kids to supporting a much broader group of cancer patients.”
Many of A.J.’s former Ohio State teammates have also joined him to be part of the fundraising efforts to support wigs for cancer patients, including Bobby Carpenter, who auctioned off the opportunity to have a fan cut his well-known long locks during the 2013 Buckeye Cruise for Cancer.
“It’s an honor to know that we have created something that others want to be a part of supporting,” A.J. says. “Through Hawk’s Locks, we hope to have a positive impact on cancer patients during a time when their self-esteem might be lacking. If we can give them even a small boost to feel good about their appearance, I really believe, and we have seen, that it can have an impact on their health as well.”
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