80 Students Came Together to Shave Their Heads After a Student Was Diagnosed With Cancer
Lifestyle| | By Margo Gothelf
A group of elementary students went above and beyond to help one classmate after she was diagnosed with cancer.
About a year ago, Marlee Pack was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of cancer that develops in connective tissue within the body. When Pack was finally able to return to school in Broomfield, Colorado, her best friend wanted to support her in anyway she could.
Packs’s best friend, Cameron McLaughlin, originally planned to donate a portion of her long hair. However, she felt like that wouldn’t be enough to support her best friend and decided to shave her whole head.
“When Cameron told Marlee she was thinking about shaving her head, Marlee got a huge smile on her face and said, ‘We can be baldy besties together!'” Cheray McLaughlin, Cameron’s mom, shared with Today.
McLaughlin and Pack never imagined what would happen next. McLaughlin’s idea to shave her head turned into a school wide event called, “Be Bold, Be Brave, Go Bald.”
“We thought, what if we asked people to donate their hair or shave their head to raise money for a good cause?” McLaughlin’s mother said.
Together with the help of teacher Jody Hempelmann, they set up a fundraiser for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, an organization that helps support research for childhood cancer. Hempelmann and her husband have previously donated to the foundation in honor of a fellow coworker’s son.
During the event, 80 students, three female teachers, both male principals, and a student’s mom shaved their heads with the help of eight hair stylists. A local salon also gave students the option of stopping if they would prefer to donate their hair instead of shaving their entire head.
“I didn’t think that many people would shave their heads, but I feel good about going back to school and not being the only bald one,” Pack shared.
Pack even got the opportunity to help shave the head of her first grade teacher.
“I feel very connected to Marlee and wanted to do something to show her how much I care, so I thought shaving my head seemed like an easy thing to do,” Erin Dupper, Pack’s first grade teacher said. “The kids getting to see Marlee upbeat, happy and brave instead of the sick girl they were imagining made it a celebration.”
The event ended up raising over $25,000 and helped Pack “come out of her shell.”
“She’s been through so much in the past year, I think she just faces life head on now,” Pack’s mom told Today. “This event only made her even more outgoing, confident and happy and as her mom, it’s refreshing to see.”