Elementary bravery

Charity-Melissa Earles
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Gander Academy raises funds for Shave for the Brave

A year ago, a group of Gander Academy students wrote a letter to their teacher asking what they could do to help the community.

On May 30 of this year, they got their wish when the Gander Community Centre filled with over 1,000 students and teachers to support the first ever Shave for the Brave at Gander Academy.

Over 130 people, 18 of which were young girls and five supportive parents, volunteered to shave their heads and, in some cases, donate 10 inches of hair.

Dina Healey is a Kindergarten teacher at Gander Academy, and the main organizer of the event. She said she thinks the event went off seamlessly, and she hopes this won't be the last time it will be done.

“It went fantastically today,” she said, “I don't see anything that would stop us from doing it again, but we'll see what the future brings.”

Paul Hamlyn and his son, Noah, both raised money for Shave for the Brave. They had a specific purpose — Mr. Hamlyn pulled through surgery last August to remove his own cancer.

Noah said it felt “really cool” to participate, and that he'll probably do it again in the future.

“When my son came home and said he's doing Shave for the Brave – it's a great cause,” said Mr. Hamlyn, “I was honoured to be able to get my head shaved alongside him.”

Mr. Hamlyn said he admires every child that donated and got their head shaved.

“We have kids in Kindergarten here today getting their heads shaved,” he told The Beacon last Thursday. “It's unbelievable. I'm blown away by it – the level of responsibility they have in their early age.”

The event had many small surprises for the children attending, such as a ‘mystery shaver’, and an event for the male teachers called Buzz the Muzz, where teachers would shave their moustaches if the children raised enough money.

The money raised will be donated to Young Adults Cancer Canada, an organization devoted to helping youth with cancer through peer programs, as well as through treatment aid, finances, and simple comfort. Geoff Eaton, the founder of YACC, attended the event and supported the young children, high-fiving each one as they finished and handing them their own Shave for the Brave toque.

While not all of the money raised has been counted yet, the total of funds brought in by the students of Gander Academy as of last Thursday was well over $23,000. There was a registration fee or donation pledge of $25 per student but some went above and beyond that, raising up to $500, $1,200, and even $2,100.

Ms. Healey said every student who contributed was a wonderful help toward the cause.

“It's lovely when children can raise so much money like that,” she said, “But we also have to remind ourselves that it's every cent that counts. Even the children that brought in the registration fee – that was phenomenal as well.”

info@ganderbeacon.ca

Organizations: Gander Academy, Gander Community Centre, Young Adults Cancer Canada The Beacon

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