Chattanoogans will shave their noggins Sunday, June 9, to raise money for pediatric cancer patients at the annual Chattanoggins benefit during Chattanooga Market in First Tennessee Pavilion.
Four years ago, Jack Skowronnek read "Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie," by Jordan Sonnenblick, the story of a middle-school boy who shaves his head to make his younger brother feel better about losing his hair to chemotherapy treatments. The book inspired Jack to a similar show of solidarity. He shaved his head, taking pledges to raise money for pediatric cancer patients.
That first year, Jack was the lone participant, but more friends and supporters have joined him each year in shaving their heads until last year there were 115 "shavees," as they are called, taking part.
According to Jack's mother, Dawn Skowronnek, Jack and friends have raised $60,000 over four years.
Three years ago, Jack partnered with Children's Hospital Foundation to hold this buzzathon during Chattanooga Market, so market visitors might participate.
"About 30 percent of our shavees register that day," says Dawn Skowronnek. "A good 30 (percent) to 35 percent are women. Most participants are inspired by a specific reason: mothers of children with cancer, friends doing it to honor friends with cancer. People who register in advance take pledges; walkups at the market are asked to make a minimum donation of $25 to the foundation."
All money raised will support the ongoing renovation of inpatient rooms in Children's Hospital Pediatric Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders as well as programs such as Child Life Department, says Jennifer Homa, Erlanger spokeswoman.
Jack, 14, a student at Signal Mountain Middle/High School, has dedicated this year's fundraising effort to Kennedy Griffith, a Jasper, Tenn., girl who died of cancer in December at age 16.
"Jack made radio commercials with her for Chattanoogins last year," explains his mother.
The Skowronnecks say you don't have to go totally bald to participate. Some participants will just get their long hair cut shorter for summer. Participants also may get their shorn locks back to send to Locks of Love or any other charity they wish to support.
In addition to Chattanoggins, the market will be filled with its usual produce and craft vendors, and Jennifer Daniels will perform on the EPB stage at 12:30 p.m.
Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...