Alaskan beauty queen goes bald for good cause
The reigning Miss Chugiak-Eagle River has raised more than $4,000 for children's cancer research for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, and last weekend, she delivered on a promise to people who pledged by allowing her brown tresses to be buzzed off.
She's proud of raising money, but the underlying message is for children who lose their hair because of cancer treatments.
"You're proving it's OK to be bald, regardless of whether you chose to be or not," Ebben said.
Ebben, 23, stands 5-feet-4 inches tall, and her official talent is playing the piano. She has been entering pageants affiliated with Miss Alaska since 2007. She used scholarship money to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks for four years. She was motivated to get involved with St. Baldrick's by another beauty queen, Miss Virginia 2008 Tara Wheeler. Near the end of her reign, Wheeler decided to raise $50,000 for St. Baldrick's and pledged to become a "shavee" if she reached her goal.
"She inspired me to get involved with them," Ebben said. "She did it kind of on the side after her reign. I decided to make it my entire personal platform."
Ebben was looking for a different kind of community project.
"It's my job as a title holder to make a really bold statement, and to be someone that people can look up to, and make an impact on the community. And that was really why I fell in love with it. It was something that was different. It was something that was unique. It was something that I could do and accomplish in a community and was something that everyone could get involved with."
Everyone included her mother Julie, who also pledged to shave her head. Debbe Ebben's turn began with auctioning off ponytails of her hair.
"It looks like I'm the Who from Whoville," Ebben said.
Ebben has not decided whether to grow her hair out as the Miss Alaska Pageant approaches in June, with the chance to compete in the Miss America Pageant. She may, she said, rock the current hairdo. She doesn't think stubble will hurt her chances.
Ebben's experience, along with her work with Children's Miracle Network, a Miss America cause, has shaped more than her hair. Instead of engineering, she's now studying to be a "child life specialist" working with children in hospitals.
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