Tinonee's Elise Rourke participates in Leukaemia Foundation's World's Great Shave

Grace.

It is the word that typifies young Tinonee resident Elise Rourke in everything she does and how she appears to the world.

It is also the name of three of her friends who rallied to support her brave endeavour at the Sofiella Watt and the Handsome Husbands concert at Mondrook Hall on Saturday, February 24.

Elise, with the full approval and support of family friend Sofiella Watt, organised to have her head shaved on the night to raise funds for the Leukaemia Foundation World's Greatest Shave fundraising campaign.

It was a steamy and sticky night, but the hall was filled with around 80 people, many of whom were there to support Elise. The overwhelming atmosphere of the evening was of a close country community coming together to have a plain good time and celebrate Elise’s act.

Although Elise was understandably nervous before her long hair came off, she quickly entered into the fun of the occasion.

“It was better than I expected, to be honest. I thought everyone was going to be sitting in their seats while it was going to happen, and everyone having their full attention on me. But it wasn’t so much like that, it was just the people that were interested in seeing and wanted to support and come around and watch and cheer,” Elise said.

Once the length of her hair was cut and whisked away out of sight to be donated, Elise’s two younger sisters and many of her friends all took a turn with the clippers. 

She was lucky her friends were well behaved, though.

“All of my friends wanted to give me a bowl cut!” Elise said.

I’m in awe of her. I just think she’s suddenly dropped away her girlhood locks, and now she’s this powerful young woman.

Clare Rourke

Elise is happy with her new hairless look, but says although she likes it, “I wouldn’t keep it this way forever.”

Elise’s parents, Clare and Jim, are justifiably proud of their eldest daughter.

“I’m in awe of her. I just think she’s suddenly dropped away her girlhood locks, and now she’s this powerful young woman. And it’s not just the hair, it’s the whole act of shaving her head,” Clare said.

“I walked into her bedroom the other morning and she looked up at me, and my heart just stopped. She looked like she was so strong and so beautiful as well, with this feminine strength.”

Exceeding expectations

Elise’s initial goal was to reach $1000 in donations. She reached that amount early and set a new goal of $2000, which she surpassed even before the event. At the time of writing, Elise’s World’s Great Shave fundraising page shows a total of $2723.41 in donations.

That is not counting more than $700 raised on the night at Mondrook – much of which was given by one anonymous donor. After the night was over, Elise’s mum, Clare, opened the donation box to find a sealed envelope with nothing written on it. The envelope contained an incredible gift of $500.

“I don’t know what to do about it,” Clare said. “I would love to thank that person but obviously they don’t want to be identified.”

Inspired by Elise, other students at St Clare’s High School are holding a World’s Greatest Shave fundraising barbecue at school in March, where one boy will have his head shaved, and two boys will have their legs waxed.

Online donations can still be made by visiting Elise’s page at worldsgreatestshave.com.