When he was just 10 years old, Jack Skowronnek read a book that would change his life forever.
That book, “Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie” by Jordan Sonnenblick, told the story of 4-year-old Jeffery and his diagnosis and treatment of leukemia. It also revealed the financial hardships and social impact that his condition had on his family and the community.
Skowronnek was so inspired by this book that he created Jack’s Chattanoggins, an annual head shaving event that promotes awareness of children who are battling cancer and helps raise funds for the Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga.
This morning I went to visit the child life specialist in the pediatric oncology outpatient clinic here at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. I’ve been working on our head shaving event in the Foundation’s office and decided to pop over to hand out some of our new “Pocket Smiles” to spread cheer.
During my 15 years on this earth I’ve been to a variety of places. However, I’ve never been to a place quite like New York City. Many people say the city never sleeps. And, let me tell you I can agree 100% with this statement. The city is a melting pot of different people and different events. I am proud to say I was one of those people and the event I went to was the Under 20 Summit this past November.
It’s four months today… four months since we lost Kennedy to childhood cancer.
I didn’t realize that when I made arrangements for my lunch today with Pam, Kennedy’s mother.
I wanted to talk with her and see for my own eyes, how she was coming along. I wanted to somehow be there for her. I wanted to have lunch and share some of our plans and the ways we want to continue to help families, such as Kennedy’s, who face these wicked battles.
We are tickled (probably because of the sodafizzies we are inhaling!) that our friends at Pure Sodaworks are lending their support to Jack’s Chattanoggins. We just LOVE their product and their philosophy for doing good business.
I can hardly believe the next shave event is approaching at, what feels like, light speed. It truly seems as though it was just a few short months ago that we swept the last bit of hair that surrendered to the buzz of the clippers off of the Chattanooga Market floor. But, ’tis true, time passes like a flash and we are excited about this year’s event!
The one thing that I discovered after last year’s event and wanted to delve deeper into, was that the actual shaving, is but a single day, however, the journey the shavee takes begins long before and lasts far beyond that day they the day shed their locks.
It’s Monday morning, the day after the shave and Paul Smith was right, Monday morning came and everything was fine.
There are so many people to thank for a wonderful event yesterday. As a I write this post, we know that we raised over $30,000 and more donations are left to be counted. There were 100 shavees and 40 gallons of hair shaved.
First of all, thanks goes to my son, Jack Skowronnek, whose little heart has always cared so much. I don’t know what most parents would do when their 10 year old announces the need to shave their head, but I’ll never regret my choice to let him do what his heart told him. And of course, to Jordan Sonnenblick whose book inspired Jack in the beginning.
We are thankful for the 100 shavees who joined us yesterday in an effort to support children battling cancer in the Chattanooga area. Every one is fabulous! And then, there are those we know on a personal level, whose support touches our hearts so deeply.
The most moving moment for me yesterday was watching the Chattanooga Roller Girls get their heads shaved. Up until this point, I hadn’t cried yet. I guess I’m getting a bit used to it. However, while watching the girls, particularly Tamara Obscura, who was so obviously moved or terrified at what she had started, that’s when I lost it. I cannot imagine what was going through their heads at the time – they couldn’t even see what was going on. Flood gates were open at that point and the emotions begin to pour out.
One of THE funnest moments was had from the most charismatic group of shavees – the Chattahooligans! Out of nowhere we heard their voices singing as they approached the shaving area. The chanting/singing was so unexpected and drew the crowd in. Here’s a peek of their antics.
Thank you to the following people who helped make yesterday a reality, and of course, to my husband Bill and the most beautiful daughter in the world, Faith.
By Luke Johnson (for 2012 Modern Woodmen Speech Contest)
My dad has crazy, wild, rock star hair! It’s curly, bushy, very dark brown (and gray). And his eyebrows are even bigger! So, two years ago when he told me he was going to shave his head I thought, what a mistake, BIG mistake! We went to the Sweet Gipsy Café and there was music and food and lots of smiling faces. It was a good time. My dad signed in and we sat outside and watched tons of people young and old getting their heads shaved. I was thinking to myself, what a cool thing everyone was doing, however, I was not brave enough to shave my own head. I came to find out that a 10 year old boy was behind this whole event. That was even more amazing! His name is Jack, and his story is really inspiring.
Jack Skowronnek read a book about a middle schooler whose brother had cancer and who shaved his head to help his brother feel better about losing his hair after chemotherapy. This book inspired Jack to shave his own head, but he did not stop there. His mom helped him realize that he could do more. After some research, Jack signed up to shave his head through St. Baldrick’s. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer driven organization that shaves heads to fund research for childhood cancer. So my dad got a shave, a shirt, and money was raised for a great cause. Of course my dad looked extremely goofy with no hair and those huge eyebrows! But he thought it was the least he could do.
I thought how cool that was that Jack was making a difference. Who would have thought a 10 year old boy could care enough to shave his own head let alone work hard to put on an event so others could get involved. I’m 10 years old and I know that I spend most of my time playing outside and doing my own hobbies, not helping others in this kind of BIG way.
The first event Jack participated in and organized raised around $1,300. The year my dad shaved his head, Jack raised around $3,000. Last year, Jack started his own organization called Jack’s Chattanoggins. He teamed up with The Pediatric Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital to continue to raise money for children diagnosed with cancer here in Chattanooga. The third year of his event Jack raised $17,000! And, this year his goal is to raise $30,000! What a huge difference this money will make! I think the idea of shaving your head is a brilliant way to raise money. I know many people wanted to give money to see my dad bald! Jack says that he plans on doing these events for the rest of his life. He inspires us all to help others. As Jack has said, you don’t have to know the person, you just have to have a heart and care. He hopes to one day have 1,000 people shave their heads at the event.