Children shaving their heads and going bald for other children with cancer has made a big splash in the news this past week. Or maybe that's specific to my newsfeed -- that of a mom who lost a child to cancer and who has more than a few friends in the same boat.
A troubling story out of Colorado detailed how a local charter school banned a little girl from attending classes, citing her newly shaved bald head as defying the school's dress code policy. UGH. Nine year old Kamryn shaved her head in solidarity with her good friend Delaney who is in active cancer treatment and has lost her hair as a result. In the end, the parents appealed the school's decision, and after a 3-1 vote, Kamryn's suspension was mooted and she was allowed to return to school. Shame on the lone vote in favor of her remaining suspended.
Then there is third grader Luca from California who organized nineteen of his classmates to shave their heads to raise over $25K for St. Baldrick's. Luca originally shaved his head two years ago while in the first grade to support his sister who was bald as a result of her cancer treatment. Some of his peeps made fun of him, which, understandably, he found upsetting. Rather than fret, Luca organized so he could help other kids understand that being bald is not so bad.
I love children.
When our daughter Donna was in treatment and without hair as a result, the few times we were able to go out into the world safely (because of her suppressed immune system), there was certain to be stares. Children stared, too, because Donna looked differently from them, but children asked questions. Innocent questions that their parents often were embarrassed by or shooshed. Those questions were always welcomed by me and answered simply and in a way little ones could understand. Donna was taking a special medicine that made her hair fall out. It would grow back.
Donna was young enough at four and had spent enough time without hair that her bald head didn't bother her as much as it most likely would have if she were even a year or two older.
When our charity, Donna's Good Things, aligned with St. Baldrick's three years ago to support their efforts to fund pediatric cancer research, I never really thought too much about children volunteering to shave. That changed the day of our first shave when the daughter of a friend offered her head and most of her classmates came along to cheer her on.
Last year there were two little girls that took my breath away and raised A LOT of money in the process.
This year is no different. We have three little ones on our shavee roster for tomorrow afternoon and I cannot wait to cheer them on and support them.
- Jax is a wee little toddler who will receive his very first haircut at the hands of our volunteer barber (thanks Robert Jeffrey Salon!)
- Aiden lives in our community and frequents Candlelite Chicago who generously hosts our event. He asked his Mom if he could shave when he saw the signs at the restaurant.
- Lucas is the son of blogging friends and has seen both his Mom and Step-dad shave for us. This year he wanted to do it, too.
Come on, now. I mean how can you not be moved by children who choose compassion, kindness, bravery, and generosity? It practically moves me to tears.
I asked Lucas' Mom, Karin, if he might answer some questions for me and they both happily agreed. The mother-son shaving team is called Everything is Awesome!, which sounds just about right to me. Lucas is seven and, yes, a little worried that he will be teased when he returns to school on Monday. Despite that fear, though, he says, "I really wanted to shave my head because I wanted to raise money for kids with cancer and I wanted to help tons of kids with cancer!" I do, too, Lucas!
Lucas, who has a fine head of dark curls, went on to say, "I have lots of curly hair and I'm shaving it because I don't really care about my hair. It makes me happy to shave it because I'm raising money. I think it's important. I'm raising money for kids cancer and the money goes to St. Baldrick's to help kids with cancer."
Lucas gets it. He gets it more than those first grade classmates who teased the California boy, and he gets it more than the Colorado school board that literally suspended a nine year old girl shaving to support her friend. Lucas gets it.
The mission of our charity is to both do Good Things in Donna's name, but also to support others to do Good Things that were inspired by Donna or influenced by learning of her story. Karin and her husband support St. Baldrick's and have been to all three of our events, raising money and awareness ever since they learned of little Donna through my words. As their children have grown in those three years, they now better know and understand childhood cancer, too.
Lucas wants to help. I want to support him.
As parents or adults, one of the most important things we could ever hope to accomplish in this life is help instill compassion and empathy in the children in our lives. When kids choose kindness, support that. When kids choose love and generosity, support that.
So often I think it is that our children teach us, not the reverse. Donna taught me so very much. She still teaches me, despite her absence. And every year, as March rolls around, I find that the kid volunteer shavees that come on out for us teach me, too.
Lucas knows a lot. I want him to know that I see that and recognize his kind gesture and compassion. I will show him that by making a donation to him and can't wait to see the smile on his face tomorrow.
I would ask you, too, to support Lucas and our other short shavees. If you click on any of the names above, you will be linked to their individual fundraising pages. Those $3, $5, $7 and $10 donations really add up -- and remember, when you are a little one, $3 is a lot of money, hell, $10 is through the roof!
Everything is Awesome, indeed, Lucas! Thank you, sweet boy! And thank you to all the parents who support the kind and loving actions of their children.