Jennifer Siebert smiled through tears as her blond hair fell to the floor.
The 14-year Commack High School special education teacher shaved her head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation on Friday in honor of junior Donna Coane.
Coane was recently diagnosed with cancer in her nasal cavity. Siebert spoke with her about an hour before shedding her hair -- the teacher said Coane is well but couldn't be at the event because earlier chemotherapy left her very weak.
“She’s a fighter,” Siebert said. “She keeps me going. She is an inspiration to everyone.”
Friday’s event brought in more than $37,000 -- not including the cash generated at the event. Organizers were expecting more than $42,000 by the end of the day.
Brenda Lentsch, a spokeswoman for the district, said this is Commack's second year running a St. Baldrick’s event. In its inaugural fundraiser, the high school raised $25,000 after only four weeks of campaigning.
“It’s a big community rally to conquer kids’ cancer,” she said.
The event is run by Lee Tunic, the lead dean of the school, and special education teachers Bill Scaduto and Dan Revera. This year, the trio's campaign involved a series of posters featuring a man kissing a child who is bald and wearing an oxygen tube. Siebert, who has a 14-month-old baby, said the gut-wrenching image stared her down as she left her classroom every day and ultimately pushed her to participate in St. Baldrick’s. The organization has raised more than $100-million to battle childhood cancers since its formation in 2000.
“Over the years I have seen several kids suffer,” she said. “This is one foundation that I do believe will donate 100 percent of their money to curing kids’ cancer.”