Pride beams from St. John’s school

Bonnie Belec
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Cowan Heights students break fundraising record and host 10,000th head-shaving

Cowan Heights Elementary set two milestones Wednesday as it set a school record for money raised for Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC), and a pupil had the honour of being the 10,000th head shaved in the program’s history.

It was also the shaver’s eighth birthday.

“It is very exciting,” Tyler Hayley said, after he had his head shaved for the fourth time in his young life and received a special yellow tuque for being the one hitting the 10,000 milestone in all of Canada.

Everyone who participates in the shave gets one, said Geoff Eaton, executive director and founder of YACC, but Tyler’s has “10,000th Shaver” imprinted on the back.

It was handed to Tyler wrapped in a shiny blue gift box. His eyes widened as he opened it and pulled out the tuque.

“We let the universe decide where our 10,000th shaver was going to be,” Eaton told a packed gymnasium before announcing Tyler’s name.

The second grader took to the shaving stool as his school mates applauded. As the razor buzzed over his head the curls swirled around his face before dropping to the floor.

His mom, Tracy, said Tyler and his sister, Ashely, raised $1,147 this year and have been doing it for the past four years.

“It’s emotional every year, but this year is a little different. Special,” she said after Tyler’s turn.

It could have been anywhere across the country, but Eaton said when the 10,000th person registered for the shave it was fate that it would be in St. John’s, where YACC and Shave for the Brave began.

The school’s gym was filled with screaming children and parents, cheering on more than 70 children who each took their turn having their heads razed by professional stylists.

Grade 5 teacher Sean Collier said the school had raised about $40,000 over the years prior to Wednesday’s event and they had hoped to hit the $50,000 mark.

“Not only have we surpassed it, we set a record and this year the students have brought in the most money ever for the Cowan Heights Shave for the Brave, raising $21,000,” he said to roaring applause.

Eaton thanked the students and told them they were brave, courageous and very important to YACC’s cause.

“There are so many stories. So many helping. Little people can do really big things and you are helping us help young adults with cancer. Thank you,” said the two-time cancer survivor dressed in a yellow tuque and matching Shave for the Brave T-shirt.

Eaton said the annual fundraiser, developed and administered by YACC, generates about 75 per cent of the organization’s revenue and is an important community and spirt builder for everyone involved.

 The first shave was in 2006 — six years after Eaton started YACC to advocate on young cancer patients’ behalf, and to build a community of survivors and patients both online and through conferences and retreats.

The Shave for the Brave is the brainchild of Eaton and YACC and is based out of the St. John’s office. It is delivered across the country in varying levels, and schools in Nova Scotia, Alberta and Ontario have participated in shaves over the years.

Eaton said more than 50 schools across the country and 827 shavers have participated so far in the 2014 season. It has also reached the

$3-million-raised mark.

He said most of the funds are spent in this province, as the national head office is in St. John’s.

He said conferences and retreats, which can be fully funded or partially funded by YACC, depending on the individual’s situation, are also held throughout the country.

YACC advocates on behalf of the 7,000 Canadians diagnosed with

cancer annually between the ages of 15-39.

Geographic location: Cowan Heights, Nova Scotia, Alberta Ontario

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