Nearly 40 participants, both adults and kids, will be shaving their heads to raise money to support local families dealing with childhood cancer and to help fund pediatric cancer research. The head-shaving will start at 2 p.m., and the event is open to the public.
Visit the event’s fundraising page at where you can view the participants, teams, or make a donation.
For the past four years, it has been a friendly rivalry, and while it still is, this year one of the brave honorees is one of their own.
Last March, shortly after the Brave the Shave events ended, Levi Gartner, the 1-year-old son of Bismarck firefighter Joe Gartner was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma. “The day we found out, our world just crashed down around us,” Joe says. “My wife and I had been very active with Brave the Shave and other charities, and we couldn’t help but ask, ‘Why us? Why does something like this have to happen to the people who help others?’”
After Levi’s diagnosis, the Gartners spent eight-and-a-half months straight in Minneapolis while Levi underwent treatment. During that time, Joe’s brothers and sisters at the fire department took his shifts so he could be with his family. “If I could make it home to take a shift, I would, but that wasn’t very often,” Joe says. “Without their help, I probably wouldn’t even have a job right now. I will never be able to thank them enough, and I will always be in debt to them for allowing me to be with my son while he was so sick and going through treatment.”
Today, Levi has completed chemotherapy and is currently in his third round of immunotherapy, a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer. Other than being fed through a feeding tube, Joe says Levi is a spunky, giggly 2-year-old boy who loves life.
Joe will be shaving his head at tonight’s Guns N’ Hoses event just as he has for the past several years, but says this year it means more than it ever has before. “When I first participated in the event five years ago, it was just about raising money to help others,” he says. “Today, it’s much more personal. Seeing my brothers and sisters and my law enforcement family come together to raise money not just for others, but for my son, touches my heart more than it ever has. It means a lot.”
Nearly 50 teams have been formed for the 2017 Brave the Shave campaign, and they’re all doing it for the same reason – for the kids and families impacted by childhood cancer. However, 14 of these teams are closer to the cause than the rest.
These 14 teams have been created to honor the children who are currently battling, who have come out of the battle cancer free, and who have become angels. Following are the 2017 Brave the Shave teams honoring Brave the Shave honorees:
All Jazzed Up honors 5-year-old Jazmine Anderson, who was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, which encompasses a set of distinct genetic disorders that causes tumors to grow along various types of nerves, as well as optic glioma brain tumors. Donate to All Jazzed Up.
Cooper’s Crew was created to honor Cooper Peterson, who is known to many as “Super Cooper.” Cooper is nearly 3 years old and was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis and optic gliomas at 11 months old. Donate to Cooper’s Crew.
Zakk’s Attack on Cancer was created for 11-year-old Zakkry Arenz, who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, the most common type of brain tumor in children, in January 2016. In December, Zakk and his family received the wonderful news that he is in remission. Donate to Zakk’s Attack on Cancer.
Chase’s Superhero Squad was created for 6-year-old Chase Jones, who, this past November, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia and made high risk because of the dangerous and rare Philadelphia chromosome, which affects how the cancer reacts to treatment. Read more about Chase and how his family banded together to support him in the post, “Shave, shave again,” and donate to Chase’s Superhero Squad.
For its first year ever, Basin Electric member cooperative KEM Electric, headquartered in Linton, is hosting its own head-shaving event to benefit the 2017 Brave the Shave campaign on Friday, March 10. During the event, six employees – nearly half of its staff – will be shaving their heads to raise money to benefit area families dealing with a childhood cancer diagnosis and to help fund pediatric cancer research.
“It’s a good thing to do – raise money to help these kids with cancer. If there is anything we can do to help make their day a little brighter or to make their lives a little easier, then we should do it,” says Lisa Rossow, KEM Electric’s data and communication analyst.
The team’s participants originally set their fundraising goal at $200, but they’ve already blown that amount out of the water. Donate to KEM Electric’s team by visiting its fundraising page.
When Brave the Shave family representative Taner Ohlsen saw an ambulance for sale while driving through Garrison, ND, it sparked an idea.
“I thought about the pink fire truck that drives around the area, giving hope to cancer fighters, especially women fighting breast cancer, and thought, how cool would it be to have a gold ambulance for kids fighting cancer to climb up in, push buttons, and play on?” he says. So he called the number on the for sale sign, and spoke to Sandra Nelson, board president of the Garrison-Max Ambulance District. After learning the price, he left the conversation intending to search for a sponsor to pay for it.
Sandra says she kept thinking about the conversation long after she hung up the phone. “I know it’s hard for a nonprofit to pay for something like this, but it’s also hard for a nonprofit to give it away, because it’s money that would be going back into the organization,” she says.
But she decided to bring the idea of donating the ambulance to the board at its monthly meeting, scheduled for the next day. “I didn’t even get it all out before everyone said, ‘yep, let’s do it,'” she says. “Everyone agreed that these kids needed this way more than we needed the money.” She says the board feels this is something that can give the kids a little hope, something they can call their own, and well worth donating.
The ambulance will be gold, the color that represents childhood cancer awareness, and feature cool, comic book-style pop art accents. The vehicle wrap was also generously donated thanks to United Printing of Bismarck. The ambulance is undergoing its transformation and will hopefully be completed by Brave the Shave’s flagship event in Bismarck, ND, on March 10.
Check out the video below of Sandra talking about the ambulance and what it means to donate it to Brave the Shave.
This year’s kickoff event for Brave the Shave’s 10th year will leave you feeling like you’re faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound – no matter how old you are.
The Brave the Shave Boot Camp is right around the corner, and will no doubt be fun for the whole family. This superhero-themed boot camp to benefit Brave the Shave’s “super kids” will offer an awesome obstacle course for kids of all ages on one side of the gym, and adults will be able to get their sweat on with a high-intensity boot camp on the other side.
Brave the Shave is featured in the March/April issue of BismarckMagazine, which hit the stands March 1. The article, “Helping kids fight cancer one shaved head at a time” tells the story of one of our brave honorees, 11-year-old Zakkry Arenz, who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, the most common type of brain tumor in children, in January 2016.
Jiry Rosecrans, is a sweet, well-spoken, positive 11-year-old girl. She loves volleyball, figure skating, arts and crafts, and math.
Nearly two years ago, Jiry was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma, a rare brain tumor that develops before a child is even born. “I knew there was something wrong from birth until she was diagnosed,” says Jiry’s mom, Bridget. “She had lots of medical problems – vision issues, headaches, strange pains in her body, flashes of light … but nobody could figure out what it was.”
They finally found the answer on May 4, 2015. Bridget says it has been a whirlwind ever since, with a brain surgery soon after diagnosis and treatments that have required them to spend extended periods of time away from home. One of the treatments was a nine-week stint in a hyperbaric chamber at Mayo Clinic, done because Jiry was going blind. This 100 percent oxygen-filled chamber forces oxygen into the bloodstream to promote healing. “It saved my eyesight,” Jiry says.
In addition to the treatments, staying in motels and eating in hospital cafeterias and restaurants for four, six, and nine weeks at a time really puts a financial strain on a family. And sometimes, when you think nothing else can go wrong, it does. “When we were at Mayo for one of Jiry’s treatments, I ran over a nail and it got into the sidewall of my tire,” Bridget says. “I was wondering how in the world I was going to pay for these new tires, because the person at the repair shop told me I had to buy all four or it would ruin the transmission.”
Then Brave the Shave stepped in. “They called and said, ‘Go get those tires. We want to make sure you get to Jiry’s treatments safely,’” Bridget says. “Brave the Shave has also helped us with motel stays and gas cards. I can’t even begin to say how much it has helped us. It allows us to focus on our child rather than sitting at the table trying to figure out how we’re going to scramble up enough money to get to the next doctor appointment or figure out how we’re going to pay for the next nine-week motel stay. Brave the Shave has truly been a Godsend for our family.”
In addition to creating “Team Jiry” to participate in the head-shaving festivities, she will also be bringing several containers filled with change to the event. She and fellow honoree, 8-year-old John Freer, have placed the containers in businesses across their hometown of Langdon, ND, encouraging patrons to drop in their spare change to support Brave the Shave and its efforts to fight childhood cancer through family support and research.
She is also encouraging people, whether they attend the event or not, to donate their hair to Children with Hair Loss, an organization that provides wigs to children dealing with medical-related hair loss at no charge. This is a cause near and dear to Jiry’s heart, and she donated her own hair several times prior to her own diagnosis.
Jiry and Bridget are looking forward to attending Brave the Shave’s flagship event in Bismarck on March 10, and they invite you to come, too.
Nothing is stronger than the power of kids helping kids. This year, Brave the Shave is showing this in a series of videos featuring siblings who are shaving their heads in honor of their brother or sister fighting the battle of their lives – pediatric cancer.
The series kicks off with Nathan Oothoudt, 11-year-old big brother to 4-year-old Brave the Shave honoree, Cullen. Nathan will be shaving his head at this year’s flagship event on March 10.
“Cully,” as he is affectionately known to his family and friends, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer, in November 2015. After surgery in Fargo and proton radiation and chemotherapy at Mayo Clinic, the Oothoudt family found out in September that Cully is relapsing, and recent scans showed significant tumor growth. He is currently receiving a new type of chemotherapy and homeopathic remedies.
“Cully is a special kid, really kindhearted,” says his dad, Scott. “It’s amazing how positive he is. He doesn’t complain about anything. He’s very strong, happy-go-lucky, and loves his brothers and sisters.”
And they love him. Nathan said one of the main reasons he decided to shave his head was so his little brother could have fun cutting his hair off with the clippers. Check out the video to see what else Cully and Nathan do when they’re together, and be sure to check out their Brave the Shave team, “Cully’s Crew Cuts.”