When 9-year-old Marlee Pack was told the devastating news that she had cancer, she knew the dreadful disease would rob her of her beautiful hair.
Marlee was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that develops from connective tissues in the body.
After a year, Marlee bravely returned to Meridian Elementary School in Broomfield, Colorado.
Little Marlee was understandably nervous about going back to school with her new look. But in an effort to support her best friend, Cameron McLaughlin decided she wanted to shave her entire head.
“When Cameron told Marlee she was thinking about shaving her head, Marlee got a huge smile on her face and said ‘we can be baldy besties together!'” said Cheray McLaughlin, Cameron’s mom.
Cameron’s idea blossomed into a school-wide event called “Be Bold, Be Brave, Go Bald.”
80 students, three female teachers, both male principals and even a student’s mom decided to shave their heads.
“We thought, what if we asked people to donate their hair or shave their head to raise money for a good cause?” McLaughlin said.
That’s when McLaughlin teamed up with teacher Jody Hempelmann, who came up with the idea to raise funds for St. Baldrick’s Foundation – an organization that supports childhood cancer research.
“I didn’t think that many people would shave their heads, but I feel good about going back to school and not being the only bald one.” 9-year-old Marlee told TODAY.com.
Her school ended up raising over $25,000 dollars for the charity, with eight stylists offering their services during the event.
Those who would rather donate some of their hair than shave their entire heads were invited to drop by hair salon Toujours Belle after school.
Although the stylists were doing most of the shaving, Marlee got the opportunity to shave the head of her first grade teacher, Erin Dupper, which she throughly enjoyed!
Erin Dupper said: “I feel very connected to Marlee and wanted to do something to show her how much I care, so I thought shaving my head seemed like an easy thing to do.’
‘The kids getting to see Marlee upbeat, happy and brave instead of the sick girl they were imagining made it a celebration.’
Marlee’s mom, Shelly Pack, has seen her daughter become stronger each day since the diagnosis saying: “She’s been through so much in the past year, I think she just faces life head on now,” Pack told TODAY.com.
“This event only made her even more outgoing, confident and happy and as her mom, it’s refreshing to see.”