They gave Bob Nelson a hat to help him get used to his new bald head on Thursday, but he didn’t wear it.
Nelson, Fresno Unified’s interim superintendent, had his head shaved at Sunnyside High School, alongside several students and teachers as part of a fundraiser for the St. Baldricks’ Foundation, which raises money for childhood cancer research.
Nelson said he was in part inspired to do the symbolic head-shaving for his son, who has a severe form of cerebral palsy.
“When you have things like that that happen in your life, you have to kind of reinvent what constitutes normal. So maybe it’s not normal for the superintendent to shave their head, but I’m not really concerned about what other people’s perceptions of normal are,” he said. “What’s important for me is to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to promote the health of all children across the Valley, and across the world really.”
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37,079People who have shaved their heads this year for St. Baldrick’s fundraisers
Sunnyside High raised more than $6,000 for childhood cancer research through the event, including a $1,000 donation from Fresno Unified school board president Brooke Ashjian.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation has raised more than $27 million for childhood cancer research this year by hosting head-shaving events. More than 37,000 “shavees” across the country made that happen.
Thursday’s event was also in memory of Mia Amendolagine, a 10-year-old Malloch Elementary School student who died last year after a battle with leukemia.
Sunnyside teacher Jon Bath, who led the event and also had his head shaved, is a family friend of the Amendolagines, and has another personal connection to working for a cure for childhood cancer: his son, Joseph.
Joseph, a 13-year-old Alta Sierra Intermediate student who was also at Thursday’s event, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 5.
Your kids are everything.
Sunnyside High teacher Jon Bath
Bath said when Joseph was sick, it was “39 months of pain and worry.”
“There’s still worry. But I have him. Mia’s gone,” Bath said. “Your kids are everything.”
Joseph, who has shaved his head for the event in the past, said he hopes more people will become involved in the event.
“I like to see this kind of thing,” he said. “I like to see the money going to a good cause.”
Yolanda Lujan, who works in the front office at Sunnyside High, also took part – shaving off nearly a foot of long gray hair she’s had for years. But she didn’t want to talk about that.
“This isn’t about me,” she said.