Madison Adelman had talked about shaving her head for several months leading up to her school district's annual St. Baldrick's Foundation event. She witnessed her grandmother lose her hair during chemotherapy before she died of ovarian cancer at age 72.
“She would be really proud of me,” Adelman, 11, said of her grandmother, Marianne Sievers.
On March 6, Adelman and her father, Eddie, 50, got their heads shaved together during the Commack School District's annual St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraising event, held at Commack High School. The duo raised more than $500 for the cancer research charity.
“I was scared at first, but now I feel good,” she said, while holding a fistful of her shaved-off locks.
Lee Tunick, a math teacher at Commack High School, was inspired to bring this event to the district six years ago, in honor of a childhood friend whose daughter who was diagnosed with cancer.
According to Tunick, the original idea was simple: Bring together a community that has “great parents, great kids, great teachers and a great administration” for a good cause, and the results will impress.
“For one day, we all look the same,” Tunick said.
For some, participation hit a personal note.
“I’ve always had long hair,” Brianna Delgado, a junior at Commack High School, said. “This is the first time I can actually do something with it and help bring a smile to someone’s face.”
Delgado’s 12-inch ponytail will be donated to Locks of Love, an organization that creates hairpieces for children afflicted with hair loss.
“For some people, being bald, because of the effects of cancer, creates some self-esteem issues,” Delgado said. “And if I can help make one wig for some woman or girl who needs a wig, then I’ll be happy that I can do something for them.”
Aryana Javaheri, 16, echoes Delgado’s sentiment. Her grandmother, Nahid Famili, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. Famili died in 2011 at age 65.
“I know a big part of cancer made her [Famili] lose her femininity because she had to cut off her breasts,” Javaheri said. In response, her grandmother wore hats and wigs to make her feel more feminine and happy. Javaheri, along with her 7-year-old sister, Ava, donated their hair to Locks of Love.
“My whole life goal now is to become an oncologist,” Javaheri added. She hopes to one day work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan and find a cure for various cancers.
Commack School District has raised more than $70,000 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation this year, Turnick said.