The first time Aaron Thompson had his head shaved on St. Baldrick’s Day, he was 10 years old. Thompson said he did it to stand in solidarity with kids fighting cancer.
“I thought it is a really great way to raise money for cancer research. It shows that human beings can be really great at giving back,” the Lawrence resident said.
Today, at age 15, Thompson has an even deeper appreciation for the concept of giving back. He was diagnosed with a form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in December 2012, and since then, family, friends, school and community members have rallied to support him.
Several of Thompson’s friends joined The Bald Buddies, a team he formed a few years ago to raise money on St. Baldrick’s Day. When a person joins a team and commits to be a shavee, people pledge money on his or her behalf. Thompson has inspired the Lawrence High School vice principal, two teachers, and the minister of the Presbyterian Church to get their heads shaved.
Teens from Lawrence are showing support in many ways, Thompson said. A group of his friends are raising money for the Lymphoma Research Foundation by selling t-shirts they have designed. LHS devoted a week to cancer awareness and to raising money.
Thompson’s sister, Rita, makes and gives away bracelets with positive affirmations. One says, “Together we will make it,” and another reads “No one fights alone.” Altogether, she handed out about 500 bracelets. Her latest creation says, “Team Aaron. We won’t be defeated.” Rita also posts updates on Thompson’s progress on Facebook and Twitter.
“It’s really awesome what she’s doing, spreading the word in a positive way,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s parents, Dana and Greg, said they are proud of Aaron and Rita.
“I want people to know as a family, we are rallying,” Dana said. “My advice to other parents: Do not be afraid to receive from others. You can do this.”
St. Baldrick’s Day organizer Mike McCue said he expects the Lawrence event to earn $75,000 this year. For the past two years, it has raised over $100,000.
“This year, we have a lot of kids participating. We have three elementary schools, two intermediate schools, and a high school,” McCue said.
Seven year-old Drew McGuire had his head shaved last year and has signed up again for this year’s event.
“It’s fun,” said young McGuire, “and we want to help kids with cancer.”
“Even though this whole cancer thing is tough, the support, the cards, gifts, bands, and ribbons have helped me stay positive, and it is not as bad as you might think,” Thompson said.
When St. Baldrick’s day is celebrated this March 16, Thompson’s team, The Bald Buddies, will be there in full force with at least 18 members getting their heads shaved. And that’s not counting Thompson. Although Thompson did not have hair to be shaved as of press time, he had good reason to believe that could change by the day of the event. His therapy is going very well, and Thompson is upbeat about the future. If he doesn’t have enough hair by the event date, his dad said he will proxy for him.
St. Baldrick’s Day is scheduled for March 16, and is set to be held at Amalfi’s Restaurant, 146 Lawrenceville-Pennington Road. For more details about the Lawrence event, go online to stbaldricks.org/events/Amalfis2013.
Those interested in joining Aaron Thompson’s team or becoming an individual shavee or a pledger, should contact Dr. Michael McCue at (609) 912-0062 at Colonial Valley Chiropractic. On the Web: stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/582473/2013.