Tonawanda News — When teacher assistant Karen Russell woke up on Friday morning she had a full head of shoulder-length hair, but by lunchtime, she had gone bald along with 30 other people — all as part of an effort to raise money for cancer research.
“God gave me the means and a beautiful head of hair to give,” she said.
Russell was one of 35 people to participate in a Goin’ Bald for Bucks event at Tonawanda Middle and High School Friday morning to benefit Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s research and patient care programs.
Russell, as well as other students and teachers who took part on Friday, said her family members’ battle with the disease inspired them to sit in the hairdresser’s chair on Friday.
“My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer 13 years ago and was given six months to live, but she’s still alive,” Russell said. “My mother-in-law died of breast cancer, and I’ve had a lot of friends that have been affected. This event is about giving back, and it’s a great example for the kids.”
Russell was the top fundraiser, bringing in $2,300. In total, the student council’s event raised more than $7,000 for Roswell. Assistant Principal Dave Sellan, a gym teacher, student council advisor Shawn Lodovico, students and community members all had haircuts on Friday. A few girls’ long ponytails will also be donated to Locks of Love, which makes wigs for children who are suffering from hair loss due to medical conditions.
The Bald for Bucks concept began 10 years ago when a cancer patient’s brother vowed to keep his head shaved until his sister’s hair grew back. Since then, more than $2.4 million has been raised through the fundraisers. Last year, the events raised $800,000.
“We have more than 50 schools in the area doing the fundraisers, and usually this is the prime time for them,” Andrea Gregory, of Roswell, said. “We have individual organizations, too — Bandits fan group is Goin’ Bald for Bucks. People really rally to support the cause, or a person or a friend has been diagnosed.”