When McDaniel College senior Taylor Rush cuts his hair at the end of the football season, it will be for a good cause.
The Green Terror linebacker hasn’t trimmed his long blonde hair in two years. He plans on donating it to Locks of Love when football is finished. Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that provides wigs and hairpieces to children who suffer from long-term hair loss.
One reason could be cancer, something Rush is all too familiar with.
His mother, Peggy Campbell-Rush, was diagnosed with invasive Stage 3 breast cancer when he was 5.
Stage 3 means the cancer has extended beyond the tumor area and may have invaded nearby lymph nodes, according to information on the National Breast Cancer Foundation website. Stage 3 breast cancer has not yet spread to distant organs in the body, according to the site.
Campbell-Rush’s mother was stricken with breast cancer 18 months later, she said, and a year-and-a-half after that her father suffered the same fate.
Breast cancer in men is rare — the lifetime risk of getting it is 1 in 1,000 for males, according to the American Cancer Society’s website.
Taylor’s mom and her parents are all survivors, however, with his grandfather aged 92 and grandmother aged 87.
“You either are somebody, you know somebody, or you’re related to somebody that goes through it,” Peggy Campbell-Rush said.
Taylor Rush watched his older sister Morgan grow out her hair five years ago and donate to Locks of Love, so it wasn’t long before he was skipping trips to the barber and letting his hair down on purpose.
“I just figured this the only time I’m going to be able to do it, while it’s still socially acceptable,” said Rush, whose mane flows from behind his football helmet during McDaniel games.
He’s having a solid start to the season, one that has seen him move from offense to defense. Rush switched from wide receiver to linebacker and has 31 tackles, tied for second most on the team, along with two interceptions (tied for tops on the squad).
When he’s not playing football, Rush said he makes sure to maintain his shaggy ‘do.
“Any windy day I’ll think about cutting it,” Rush said. “It’s hard to keep it in check, now that I have to actually take care of it. I’m combing it every day, conditioning it every day.”
McDaniel football teammate Bill Castor, a senior kicker, also sports long hair and is set to donate at season’s end.
Rush said he didn’t understand the extent of his mother’s fight against cancer at such a young age, but years later he recognizes the battle won by those closest to him.
“It’s going to be great to give back,” he said.
Rush’s mother gets emotional just talking about her son’s plan once the football season is over.
“Brings me to tears,” Campbell-Rush said. “He’s such a good kid.”
Reach Pat Stoetzer at 410-857-7894 or firstname.lastname@example.org.