Francis Wood, one of the Touch Football community’s most talented young referees, has given her hair its marching orders as part of the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave. For Wood, the 2007 World’s Greatest Shave was the culmination of a seven-year plan. The nineteen-year-old grew her long locks down to her buttocks before getting rid of them for charity. She had been growing her hair since first deciding to shave her head after her aunt Vicki was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1998. “I couldn’t do it while I was at school. I wanted to grow my hair past my bottom and do something weird and shave it off,” Francis said. Aunt Vicki and mother Michelle are proud of the dedication that Francis has shown.Michelle, who has also shaved her head in the past, donated bone marrow to sister Vicki in 1999. “I think [shaving] it’s a great idea, I think it’s quite honourable,” Michelle said. Francis and Michelle both think more people should get involved with World’s Greatest Shave. So far Francis has raised about $1,500. She is aiming to reach $4,000 by the end of the year and is currently on track. Michelle fully supports what her daughter has done.“She took an overall look at it and knew that it was ok to do it. It wasn’t suffering, she didn’t go through any great loss, and it was only her hair. Cancer sufferers lose their hair and some don’t get it back,” Michelle said. The Level Two referee, who has been involved in the sport as a player and a referee for over four years, has received great support from the Touch Football community.Francis’ refereeing abilities have recently been recognised with induction into the New South Wales Touch Association Talented Referees Youth Squad. However, it is her endeavour off the field that is sure to raise public awareness for what is an ongoing and very serious problem that affects many people. New South Wales Touch Association Administration Manager Kylie Hearne is full of praise for Francis’ initiative and commitment to the worthy cause.“We have all been touched by this insidious disease in one way or another. Last year as a Touch community we lost Mick Johnson, and earlier this year Matt Essey to cancer. It’s awesome that someone as young as Francis is taking the lead and realizing that it’s a disease that affects the old and the young and that we can all play a part in helping fight against it… Francis had the most beautiful long hair, so it’s great that she had no qualms in doing this, it’s incredibly selfless and we’re all pretty proud of her for doing it. It would be great if the Touch community got right behind her and helped raise as much money as possible,” Ms. Hearne said.World’s Greatest Shave has raised in excess of $55 million in the past eight years. The funds go to supporting patients and families living with leukaemia, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders. It also assists in providing a range of services including education, transportation and counselling. Francis’ contribution will undoubtedly have a great benefit to many people. She said that getting involved with the World’s Greatest Shave was definitely worthwhile because there is no real downside. “I’m not missing the hair. It feels great actually. I love helping people. The money will go to helping kids that are sick. I haven’t missed out on anything, I lost some hair, but it’ll grow back.” Only a month after lopping her “do”, Francis is already planning to shave again. “I was actually thinking of doing it again at the end of the year because it’s actually growing quite fast. I just love it, it feels great.”Money can be contributed to Francis’ tally until the end of the year. If you would like to donate visit www.worldsgreatestshave.com – go to Sponsor, follow the links and enter Francis Wood.The up-and-coming whistleblower would like others to take a message from her actions. “Get out there; try new things and new experiences in life. This has been a great experience for me. It’s been fun, and it’s great to feel like you are helping people in some small way,” Francis said.