Tonawanda News

April 5, 2014

Tonawanda Middle and High School holds fundraiser for Roswell

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

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.”

The school held a Bald for Bucks fundraiser two years ago, Morgan Rossow, a Tonawanda graduate who now works for Roswell, said.  

“We’ve had a lot more people this year. Then, we raised $6,100, now we’re up to $7,052,” she said. “People who weren’t signed up came in to have their head shaved or have a haircut this time, which made a big difference.”

Senior Zachary Robinson, who was helping sweep up the piles of hair on the gym floor at the end of the event, had his head shaved along with a group of his friends. 

“I wanted just a good thing to do, and we had our friends to do it with,” he said. “It just feels good to help. I’m used to my hair being short, but not this short.” 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.