Thompson and Company father and daughter hold hands, donate hair on main stage

At University of Iowa Dance Marathon 26, the co-director of Thompson & Co. Bobby Thompson and his 7-year-old daughter, Lola, each donated eight inches of hair on stage alongside fellow Dance Marathon dancers.


Ryan Adams

Thompson and Company Owner Bobby Thompson poses for a portrait with his daughter Lola Thompson during the Short Hair Don’t Care event at Dance Marathon 26 in the IMU on Feb. 8, 2019. Thompson has been cutting hair for the event for four years. (Ryan Adams/The Daily Iowan)

Riley Davis and Rachel Schilke

In celebration of University of Iowa Dance Marathon 26, a father and daughter honored the families and held hands as they donated their hair together on the main stage.

The UI Dance Marathon event, “Short Hair, Don’t Care,” kicked off at 4 a.m. as the co-director of local hair salon Thompson & Co., Bobby Thompson, shaved his head alongside his 7 year old daughter Lola Thompson, who trimmed eight inches of her own hair. 

“Last year after the event, [Lola] came up to me and said, ‘It’s really important to me to see what you’re doing — I want to donate my hair too,’” Bobby Thompson said. “I’m a proud dad right now, and I’m most proud because she’s doing it for the kids.”

The stylists were just as excited as the dancers to be participating in “Short Hair, Don’t Care.” Thompson and Co. has been cutting hair for donations since UI Dance Marathon 22 in 2016, and is the sole company that the UI reaches out to for the time-honored annual event. 

The university asked Thompson and Company to be a part of the Big Event after the salon opened in April 2015. Salon Coordinator Lauren Marck said it was a great opportunity that Thompson & Co. could not say no to.

RELATED: Iowa football’s Paulsen brothers lose their locks at Dance Marathon

Neither had donated their hair before, and Bobby Thompson said he was nervous to shave his head but that donating to a wonderful cause was worth the stress. He had grown his hair out for a year in preparation for the big event. 

“It’s all about spreading awareness for the families that have been affected or are affected,” Bobby Thompson said. “It’s an amazing experience.”

Lola Thompson said that it would be a big change to see her dad with a shaved head, but that she was excited to trim her own hair with him on stage.

Prior to the on-stage main event, crowds of dancers gathered around the River Room in the Iowa Memorial Union at 1:30 a.m. to see their friends and morale captains cut off eight or more inches of their hair. 

Wyatt Dlouhy
Morale Captain Tessa DeWall gets her head shaved during Dance Marathon 26 at the IMU on Saturday, February 8, 2020. (Wyatt Dlouhy/The Daily Iowan)

For some dancers, these haircuts were their first in many years. Valerie Gunn, UI sophomore and Dance Marathon morale captain, held onto her chopped-off hair at the Big Event Saturday morning as it hit her that she had just donated 14 inches. 

She said she was terrified but committed, and had been planning to donate her hair for over a year.

“I saw people donating last year, so I was inspired to cut my hair this year,” Gunn said.

Gunn said that UI Dance Marathon means the world to her, and being a morale captain this year has been the greatest experience she could have ever asked for.

“I’ve been able to meet and work with the most amazing people, and being able to donate my hair for a cause I am so dedicated to is just an unbelievable opportunity,” she said.

Gunn said that if it meant raising $10,000 for the UI Dance Marathon, she would shave her head. 

After the event was over, Bobby Thompson said it was incredible to see all of the people who were brave enough to come up on stage in front of everyone and cut their hair or shave their head.

“Seeing all the love up here on stage, if you can’t be inspired by that,” he said, “I don’t know what else can.”