By Brenda L. Holmes
Colts cheerleader Megan M. took time this week to visit with students to talk about her decision to shave her head.
It is a requirement by the Colts program that she not have her last name published while she is a cheerleader.
John Crane is the executive director of Sagamore Student Leadership Initiative. He recently learned he had a personal connection with Megan and was able to ask her to speak to his group.
“We asked Megan to come tell her story and explain to the students about how she is using her platform to make a difference,” Crane said.
He used the opportunity to speak to students about how they can influence others.
“You may not even realize the impact you may have,” he said. “Can you tell us the story of how this all happened?”
She said the cheerleading team has been affected very personally by cancer.
“One of my teammates lost her father and one of my other teammates’ mother is fighting cancer right now,” she said. “I had actually had a dream that Blue shaved my head.”
She said after the dream she spoke with a few of her teammates and thought it would be a good idea. Megan set up a meeting with team leadership to talk about shaving her head.
“I was talking about it and was told they thought it might be too extreme,” she said. “I didn’t want it to look like I was just trying to get attention so I dropped it and canceled my meeting.
“Then coach Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. Blue sent out an e-mail to all the cheerleaders asking if any of us would be willing to shave our heads to show support for coach Chuck Pagano. I thought ‘this is a sign from God.’ I asked my employer if it would be OK and of course it was. Then I asked my boyfriend and he didn’t hesitate.”
She said she sent a Tweet to Blue and agreed to do it. Blue and Megan set a goal to raise $10,000 for leukemia research.
Using social media and working with local media outlets, the duo was able to raise more than $22,000 in just two weeks. Sponsors like Ray’s Trash out of Clayton and Great Clips jumped on board.
The night before she was to have her head shaved another cheerleader, Crystal Ann, decided she would get her head shaved alongside Megan.
“She said, ‘I’ve been bald before — I can do it again,’” Megan said. “Crystal Ann had leukemia in 1992 and has been in remission since ‘95.”
Both ladies cut off their pony tails for Locks of Love.
Even with all of the press and social media attention prior to the big day, Megan said she was still very nervous that people would think she was just trying to get attention.
“I was really nervous,” she said. “Not about shaving my head — it’s just hair. I was worried people would think I was doing it for the wrong reason. But I just wanted to help end this disease.”
Megan read a text she received from Pagano to the group.
“Now, I’ve never read this to anyone else,” she said. “It just made me feel really proud to be a part of the Colts organization.”
She said this is the last year she will be cheering for the Colts and added that she’s made memories that will last a lifetime.
“I was able to cheer at Peyton’s last game and during the season we hosted the Super Bowl,” she said. “I also cheered for Andrew Luck’s first season. I’ve really had some fun.”
Megan is a occupational therapist and has spent time competing in Miss America pageants. She was Miss Indiana in 2008.
“And it’s funny because I hate to wear makeup,” she said. “I never wear make up to work.”
Crane decided he also wanted to shave his head to show support.
“She really has inspired people,” he said. “I just want to show my support. We have four kids and when our youngest heard I was going to shave my head, he said, ‘awkward,’” Crane said.
His wife, Jean, was given the honor of shaving his head.
The Sagamore Student Leadership Initiative began in 2009 and was officially launched at the first Sagamore Summit in July 2010. But its roots go back to the vision of Sarkes and Mary Tarzian, community leaders in Indiana who sought to further the legacy upon which American principles were founded.
Sagamore-Indy West will be hosting the “Glow in the Snow 3K Fire Run,” a fundraising event for Susie’s Place, Hendricks County’s child advocacy center, at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 3 at West Bridge Church, 1521 S. C.R. 75 W., Danville. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m.
This will be a 3K fun run in the snow after dark. There will be glow-in-the-dark paint and fires lining the course. It will be followed by a .3K fun run for children ages 10 and younger.
There will be supervised activities for children during the evening.
Cost is $20 before Dec. 31 or $25 at the door. For more information or to register, visit the website at www.sagamoreleadership.org.