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A New Look for a Good Cause

May 5, 2010
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Maria Owen agreed to shave her head at halftime of Liberty's spring game against Lynchburg College on April 23. Owen's spontaneous act raised $1,000 for an organization that provides clean water to underdeveloped nations.

Maria Owen agreed to shave her head at halftime of Liberty's spring game against Lynchburg College on April 23. Owen's spontaneous act raised $1,000 for an organization that provides clean water to underdeveloped nations.

When Maria Owen stepped onto the soccer field for a spring game against Lynchburg College on April 23, she didn't realize that roughly an hour later, her long brown hair would be gone.

It wasn't yanked out by an opposing player. Instead, Owen agreed to have her head shaved – voluntarily – as a way to raise funds for a program called Living Water through a local ministry, Sport Outreach Institute.  

It was a decision, Owen says, that was entirely spontaneous. "I did have a chance to think about the ramifications," she said. "But a lot of people do harder things every day."

The decision to shave her head didn't come out of nowhere. A player for Lynchburg College, Devon Harp, had her own head shaved at halftime to raise money for cancer research. It was something that Harp had been planning for awhile, and when Liberty's graduate assistant coach Laura Armstrong jokingly told Owen to do the same, Owen couldn't pass up the opportunity to do something crazy.

Liberty Head Coach Jessica Hain then told Owen if she went through with it, then she would donate $1,000 to Sport Outreach, an organization that raises money to provide clean water in underdeveloped nations. The women's soccer games held that day (involving Lynchburg College, Liberty and VMI) were part of a week-long fundraiser held by Lynchburg College to raise awareness about the issues of contaminated water.

So Owen sat down, was covered in a robe, and, surrounded by her teammates and players from Lynchburg College, she said goodbye to her long, brown locks. Her boyfriend, Jake Reagan, cut off her ponytail before the rest was buzzed off.

"It seemed like a very basic way to help a lot of people," Owen said, explaining that it costs roughly $1,300 to build a well that can provide water for an entire village. "It was an opportunity to show support to Lynchburg College, but also to put living a Christian life into practice, and show them that trying to be like Christ isn't something we just talk about. It's something authentic."

Hain couldn't be prouder of the rising senior. "By doing this, Maria is challenging all of us to step outside our comfort zones in order to save and change lives," Hain said. "Her simple act will help to provide a community of people halfway across the globe with disease-free well water. We are so proud to have a senior captain like Maria to represent us."

Hain wrote a check right then for the organization, as Owen looked on.

Owen says getting used to her new look has been a bit of an adjustment, and she's no longer surprised by the confused expressions of onlookers. "I've been getting plenty of strange looks," she admits. "But people who know me have been totally cool about it, and they think it's great."

Owen also had plenty of support from her teammates, who she says despite their initial shock, kept telling her she looks great with her bare head.

Owen says she has no regrets, as she understands her hair will grow back eventually. And she even noticed a bit of an advantage in the second soccer game that afternoon.

"I felt good," she said with a laugh. "I felt a little more aerodynamic."