Ever since 10-year-old Iowa City boy Sully Hall watched his younger brother endure months of chemotherapy and eventually beat cancer, he's looked out for him.
This week, he took it a step further by getting his hair shaved down to stubble in solidarity with Finn, 7, and other child cancer survivors, who have years of medical needs and bills that many people don't realize.
"Even though he annoys me sometimes, I feel like I want to protect him," Sully said. "I was really worried about him when he was in the hospital."
Through his promise to cut his hair, Sully raised $815 that will go to the Red Shamrock Foundation, a non-profit started by the boys' father John Hall in 2011. The organization's mission is to raise awareness and support for all the needs that child cancer survivors face.
Mothers and sons, husbands and wives, friends, and even a 33-year cancer survivor ended up cutting their hair for the cause on Thursday evening. The Dublin Underground in Iowa City provided the space and hairstylists from Buzz Salon volunteered their services for the "Bald is the New Beautiful Head Shaving Event."
Hall said they raised well over $5,000.
Sharon Stockman, a cancer researcher at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, was among those that lost their locks. She said given her line of work this was an ideal cause to support. And, when people see her newly bald head, she can explain the back story of why she did it, she said.
"You are done with chemo, and think it is over, but the treatment and costs continues," she said.
Tim Rossi, 47, who battled cancer as a 13-year-old, volunteered to shave his head if on the spot he could raise $10 for each of the 33 years he's been in remission. It took about 30 minutes for the packed house to top $500.
"I just want to give back," Rossi said. "I have this privilege that I can never refill."
Hall said it has cost about $1.5 million since they first discovered Finn had stage-four neuroblastoma just before his third birthday. After 18 months of chemotherapy, Finn had quarterly and then semiannual doctor visits, blood tests, CT scans as well as minor kidney problems. Other survivors develop problems with organs such as lungs, liver and heart, and they develop secondary cancers from the radiation treatment.
Hall said organizations such as Dance Marathon focus on needs before and during cancer treatment, but challenges remain for years after. As the foundation builds its bank, the hope is to offer survivors resources such as a school reintegration program and an end of treatment packet."We want our names out there in the hospitals," Hall said. "We want them to be able to use us for survivor resources."