After undergoing treatment for a brain tumour last year, 10-year-old Joanna Chong was so weak she could not even sit up.
Yesterday, she was walking unaided as she witnessed her father get his head shaved to raise funds for the non-profit organisation that helped her get back on her feet. Joanna had spent about two months at the Children's Cancer Foundation's Place for Academic Learning and Support, which helps children reintegrate into schools after recovering from cancer.
Asked what she wanted to do in the future, she said: "Something that can help other people."
Her father, Mr Chong Hui Kwee, 48, was one of 353 participants at yesterday's kick-off event at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery for the annual Hair for Hope fund-raising campaign that the foundation runs.
Each shaven head represents an individual's understanding of the ordeals experienced by a child with cancer. Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, often result in hair loss.
Venerable Ren Xu, a spiritual adviser at the monastery, told participants that generosity and support need not be restricted to money or material benefits but could also come in the form of contributions of time, energy and talent.
Cleaner Doreen Ho, who had her head shaved yesterday, said she was honoured to take part in the event. It was a moving experience for her, she said.
"I don't have many friends, but hopefully those who don't know me will see what we are doing and support us," she added in Mandarin.
Her son died of leukaemia more than 30 years ago as she could not afford a bone marrow transplant.
Yesterday's event raised more than $93,000 in donations. Hair for Hope, launched in 2003, is supported by 15 companies this year.
The main event will take place at VivoCity on July 30 and 31. The organisers hope to enrol at least 6,500 participants and raise $3.6 million this year.
Last year, 6,190 participants raised $3.34 million.