This past Thursday, our school participated in the Terry Fox Run.
These are the times that I love being part of a school community; it was positively heartwarming.
First, it’s great to see the kids push themselves to run. Some of the Grade 6s ran about 20 laps of the park: that’s over twelve kilometres! Crazy. I was never a runner, so I am in awe of this. And I especially appreciate that many of the kids who run like the wind are not academic stars – I love watching them in their athletic element. They run with the knowledge that all those kilometres will be added together with the rest, to honour Terry Fox and others who suffer because of cancer.
And then there’s D, the Grade 4 kid who had his head shaved to donate his hair. He’s been working on this since before I went on maternity leave. I remember seeing him again when I came back to school last spring, and him announcing to me excitedly that he’d been growing his hair, as if it weren’t patently obvious. I’d almost thought it was a wig at first glance, because it was ridiculously thick and lustrous, flowing from underneath his baseball cap well past his shoulders.
I was so impressed when I learned he was growing it to donate, putting normalcy and regular coolness aside for many months in order to do something good. (Three of the Grade 4 girls had also cut and donated their hair this summer, and I’m so proud of them too… I’ve done it myself a couple of times… but one must admit, it’s easier for a girl.)
During the last few months, on his own steam, he also raised over $900 to donate – and I’m sure that the donations at the door on Thursday put him over his goal of $1,000. This kid is nine years old.
That day, the junior classes came to the gym for a special assembly to watch D get all that long hair snipped off. He sat on a chair onstage, grinning and waving at his schoolmates as they came in. It was fantastic. D is not athletic, he’s kinda pudgy… academically, he is about average… but that day, he was an absolute star. He glowed with enthusiasm, he joked with the barber, he posed with aplomb for the photographer, he sat patiently as the four ponytails were carefully cut with scissors (his dad and brother helped), he laughed along with everyone else when the barber shaved stripes in the short hair. As the last bits were shaved, the entire gym was chanting his name, cheering for him – and for the best darn reason ever.
At the end, he declared, “Thanks, everyone, for donating! You ROCK!” And the crowd went nuts.
It’s enough to make a teacher teary-eyed.
I’m sure Terry Fox would have been proud, given him a big high-five and a hug. As it is, I know he got plenty of both from his family and friends.