Alum’s Think and Do Response To Children’s Cancer

Jessica Ekstrom (Communication '13) founded Headbands of Hope while she was a student at NC State.
Jessica Ekstrom (Communication ’13) founded Headbands of Hope while she was a student at NC State.

Jessica Ekstrom graduated in 2013 with a degree in communication, a minor in Spanish — and a fully-fledged business she created to support children with cancer. “Preparing to launch Headbands of Hope at NC State taught me responsible thinking and the importance of taking action,” she says. “My learning wasn’t limited to the classroom.”

During a student internship with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Ekstrom noticed that young girls who lost their hair from chemotherapy treatments did not like to wear wigs. But they still wanted a way to express their feminine identities. Ekstrom settled on headbands, and came up with a compelling business model: for every headband sold, one is donated to a girl who has lost her hair and one dollar is given to cancer research.

Ekstrom and her team have delivered headbands to more than 300 hospitals in the United States and internationally. The company has sold 35,000 headbands and donated $35,000 to charity.

This inspiring entrepreneur embodies the NC State Think and Do approach to addressing challenges — including those faced by little girls with cancer.

This article is adapted from a recent post  in the NC State Alumni Association’s Red and White for Life blog. Ekstrom gave the 2013 NC State student commencement speech

2 responses on “Alum’s Think and Do Response To Children’s Cancer

  1. Susan Wade says:

    Thank you, Jessica, for this wonderful finding for girls! My 16 year old cousin just finished receiving her second round of chemo in Nashville earlier this week due to a malignant teratoma tumor that was removed in February. The only side effects so far from her treatment is her losing her hair. I most definitely look at your website and support Headbands of Hope by buying a few headbands for my little cousin. Great idea!

  2. Dianne Colton says:

    My niece, an NCSU grad, posted this on Facebook. I have a 15-month-old granddaughter undergoing chemo at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. She won’t tolerate “hats,” so your headband may be the perfect solution. Thanks for all your efforts for these precious children.

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