Students, teachers shave heads to support child cancer research

Students and teachers at two Cayman high schools shaved their heads on Thursday to raise funds for child cancer research.

Ten students and teachers at Clifton Hunter High School went under the barber’s shears and scissors Thursday morning to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Later that afternoon, another 33 students and four staff from Cayman Prep and High School also had their hair chopped off.

The “Shave for the Brave” school fundraisers were precursors to Friday’s community head-shaving event, “Hannah’s Heroes Big Shave,” at The Wicket at Cricket Square. Hannah’s Heroes is inspired by Hannah Meeson, a 10-year-old cancer survivor.

The students’ efforts Thursday earned them high praise from St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s CEO Kathleen Ruddy, who traveled to Cayman from the U.S. to attend this year’s fundraising events.

“Those of you being shaved today, it’s an incredible experience and what you are all making possible is truly a lifesaving research that is going to help Hannah and tens of thousands of children like her,” Ms. Ruddy told the students.

At Clifton Hunter, speaking about losing his mother four years ago, Year 11 student Deojae Blake said he was shaving his hair to help raise money for cancer research. Sisters Carina, 12, and Dreshna James, 15, both had their heads shaved to help, the many children with cancer, they said. Jasmin Christian, 15, whose late aunt was a cancer sufferer, said, “I found an opportunity to help; if I donated, then I could say I assisted them in finding a cure for cancer.”

Student Trevor Carmola, 11, said, “Every two to three minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer. The impact on family, friends, the child  … is tremendous. I don’t want anyone to have to go through that.”

Clifton Hunter teacher Margaret DuBarry, left, and student Ajuay Whittaker get their heads shaved Thursday by Kayla Muhlethaler and Jamie Blake from Halo Hair Studio. – Photo: Jewel Levy

Teacher Andy Allom also had his head shaved. “For us staff, we are just grateful to have hair at this age anyway, but kids are brilliant doing this.”

Gayleen Meeson, Hannah’s mother, told students, “You have hearts, you care, you are brave and want to help others who are less fortunate than you … like children fighting cancer.”

Stephen Clarke, one of Clifton Hunter’s vice principals, who organized the event, said, “It is great to see the school community get behind it.”

This was the second year Cayman Prep math teacher Paula Daniels took part, having the back of her head buzzed. Ms. Daniels said more than $100 was raised for her to participate.

Prep Year 10 student Sam Bailey said her mom offered her $500 to have her head shaved, but she declined. “I was too scared,” she admitted. She did, however, have about 12 inches of hair cut off, which will be donated as ponytails to Locks of Love.

Cayman Prep Principal Phillip Burgess said the school raised $16,000 last year, and he hopes to match that mark again this time around.

To read more about Hannah’s Heroes Big Shave at The Wicket, which begins at 5 p.m., see today’s Weekender.