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Inspiring stories of people making a difference

3rd Grader Turns Bad Head-Shaving Experience Into A Wonderful Gesture for Kids Battling Cancer

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Luca Glickman was teased back in first grade after getting his head shaved in support of kids, like his sister, battling cancer. He swore he'd never do it again. Good thing Luca changed his mind. (Published Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014)

    For the record, up until this past Thursday, it had been four months since the hair on 8-year-old Luca Glickman's head had come in contact with a pair of scissors.

    Four whole months that Luca's hair was allowed to grow, unabated, into the curly, dark brown mop it had become.

    Luca (and his mom) had allowed things to get this far because the plan all along was for all that hair to come off at once, as part of a St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraiser at NetApp in Sunnyvale.

    St. Baldrick's is a children's cancer charity that sponsors events during which volunteers collect pledge money in exchange for shaving their heads.

    Luca Glickman let his hair grow for four months in preparation for this year's St. Baldrick's event.

    "It's going to feel good," Luca said, running his hands through his hair.

    He would know, because this will be the third time Luca has participated in a St. Baldrick's event, even though he swore after the first one he would never do it again.

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    "I really didn't like it," Luca recalls. "People were making fun of me."

    That was in 2012, when Luca's sister, Alessandra, had just completed treatment for a rare brain tumor. Luca and his father volunteered to have their heads shaved to raise money for others battling pediatric cancer.

    Luca first shaved his head as a first-grader in support of his sister, Alessandra, who had recently battled a brain tumor.

    Luca, then in first grade, thought the whole experience was fun. Until he went to school the next day.

    "Some people were calling me 'baldy,'" Luca said.

    "He came home crying," remembers his mom, Tina Ashamalla.

    So why did Luca return the next year?

    Well, while Alessandra was receiving cancer treatment at a hospital in Boston, the Glickman family had stayed at a nearby Ronald McDonald House. Luca later learned that two boys he had met while staying there had since passed away.

    After classmates teased him for being bald, Luca swore he'd never shave his head again.

    "I really felt sad and I should do it again," Luca said. "I don't care what other people say."

    So Luca shaved his head a second time. The reception back at school wasn't as bad, but still, it wasn't cool being the only bald kid at school.

    Which is why Luca came up with a new plan for year three: one that allowed him to shave his head, raise more money than ever for cancer research, and not have to deal with being different.

    All Luca had to convince all his friends to shave their heads, as well. Which is just what Luca did.

    "I feel kind of proud," Luca said.

    Determined to help kids with cancer (but not be different), Luca convinced nineteen other classmates to join him this year.

    So that is how 20 third graders from McKinley Elementary School ended up making the drive down to NetApp's Sunnyvale campus. One by one they sat down on one of the chairs set up on a stage and put on an apron. One by one, a stylist armed with clippers went to work.

    When all the shaving was done, Team McKinley Bulldogs, as they called themselves, ended up raising more than $26,000 for St. Baldrick's, and Luca Glickman gave everyone a lesson in how to turn one bad experience in life, into a way to possibly save lives.

    Togehter, Luca and his friends raised more than $26,000 for kids battling cancer.