Several ERHS students let Sydney Kovalyak shave their heads during lunch on Jan. 10 in an effort to raise funds for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation – an organization raising awareness and funds for pediatric cancer.
The ERHS effort was the brainchild of Riley Sheldon, an ERHS junior, and member of the school’s Junior ROTC program. She wanted to raise at least $1,000 with the event. So far, her efforts combined with the efforts of other ROTC cadets have raised more than $1,600.
Riley Sheldon smiles as her stylist, Sydney Kovalyak, puts the finishing touches on Sheldon’s head shave. Photo by Amy Armstrong.“I take so much for granted,” Sheldon said, of her decision to raise funds to help other kids with cancer. “There are girls out there that never know what it is like to braid their hair because cancer takes their hair away from them.”
Two years ago, Sheldon donated more than 15 inches of hair to the Locks of Love group.
Her father, Ron Sheldon, said he is daughter is continually looking for ways to help others.
“We told her, ‘You come up with something and we will support you,’” Ron said as he watched Kovalyak – his daughter’s hairstylist – carefully run an electric shaver over his daughter’s bare head to tidy up her new look while Riley sat in a chair neatly situated on a blue tarp on the ERHS commons stage.
Kaleb Keller, also an ERHS student, helped Riley’s efforts by raising $1,120.50. A thousand of that came from the Alaska Vets Motorcycle Club, a group his father belongs to.
Cancer is a personal issue for Keller. His mother, Suezanne Kelley-Coffey has been battling cancer for four years. He’s watched his mother and knew he wanted to do something to help other kids his age going through the same struggle.
ERHS Principal Marty Lange challenged Riley to raise $5,000 for next year’s event in her senior year. If she does, Lange has agreed to have his head shaved.
Learn more about St. Baldrick’s online at www.stbaldricks.org.