A quick picture before appearing on the 3 Plus You show with the Chattanooga Roller Girls.
Jack Skowronnek of Signal Mountain would like to see more Chattanooga noggins.
The 12-year-old has been inspired by the book “Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie,” in which a middle school student gets his head shaved in solidarity with a younger sibling with cancer.
Jack will have his blond hair buzzed later this month to raise money for the Children’s Hospital Foundation at Erlanger. Jack, a rising seventh-grader at Signal Mountain Middle/High School, said he wanted to let people know “it’s OK to be bald.”
The hair affair — officially called Jack’s Chattanoggins — will play out on June 26 at Chattanooga Market in the First Tennessee Pavilion. In the meantime, he’s hoping to convince scores of area residents that bald is beautiful.
People also willing to risk a short summer cut can register for the event and raise money for the organization by visiting www.JackShaves.org.
At last count, 20 people — including some members of the Chattanooga Football Club — had registered for the hair-raising fundraiser, according to Dawn Skowronnek, Jack’s mother and the event organizer.
Jack first had his head shaved two years ago when the family lived in the Chicago area. Donations went to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers.
He read the book on the recommendation of the librarian at his school, he said, and was inspired to shave his head as the character of the book did.
“I didn’t know you could raise money [that way],” he said.
That year, his haircut netted $1,300.
Last year, after the family moved to Signal Mountain, more than $3,000 was raised for the charity with a public event — and 14 shaved heads — at Sweet Gipsy Bakeshop Cafe on Signal Mountain.
Mrs. Skowronnek’s introduction to oncologist Dr. Eric Gratias at last year’s event and the Children’s Hospital Foundation’s desire to do a similar fundraiser led to Jack being asked to be the face of the 2011 affair.
Betsy Chapin Taylor, president of the Children’s Hospital Foundation, said it was the perfect pairing.
“As an organization devoted to advancing the well-being of children, Children’s Hospital Foundation is delighted to collaborate with a bright young man who recognizes that, even as a child, he has the power to make a positive impact on the world around him through his advocacy and fundraising to help local kids with cancer.”
With the elevated platform of Chattanooga Market, the 2011 goal for the fundraiser is $20,000, according to Mrs. Skowronnek.
“We need heads to shave and donations,” she said. “We hope people will come out and enjoy the event.”
She said she hopes area restaurants might be willing to host recruiting events or donate gift cards for participants and that corporate sponsors might come forward.
Mrs. Skowronnek said participants need not worry about becoming chrome domes. No razors are involved, she said.
“There’s a little [hair] left,” she said. “It’s all done with clippers.”
Most sixth-graders summer plans are focused around vacations and summer camps, but for 12-year-old Jack Skowronnek, that just is not enough.
Jack has partnered up with the Children’s Hospital Foundation at Erlanger to organize a head-shaving event called Jack’s Chattanoggins to raise money for children’s cancer treatments.
The event, which takes place Saturday, June 26, at the Chattanooga Market, will be more than just head-shaving. There will also be food, music, and an auction, which will include an original painting that was donated by artist Jill English, who lost her son to cancer.
For Jack, this will be the third time he has shaved his head to support children with cancer.
The head-shaving began when Jack was just 10 years old, after he was inspired by a book he read called Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, by Jordan Sonnenblick, in which a boy shaves his head to support his younger brother after he is diagnosed with leukemia.
“He finished the book and he just announced to me that he needed to shave his head,” his mother, Dawn Skowronnek, said.
Skowronnek said she wanted to teach her son that he could do more than just shave his head to support these kids, that he could also raise money to help pay the high cost of their treatment.
The first two year’s that Jack shaved his head, he signed up to do so through St. Baldricks, a national, non-profit organization that encourages people to shave their heads and donate to help cancer patients. In those two years, Jack raised more than $5,000.
This year, Skowronnek said Paul Smith, general manager of the Chattanooga Market, contacted her and asked if Jack would like to have his own event there.
“I was driving down the road and I listened to the story (on the radio) about Jack … and what he was doing and I wanted to do something,” Smith said. “It was just heartwarming and it sounded like it needed a larger audience.”
As a result of that, and the support of the Children’s Hospital Foundation, Jack’s Chattanoggins was created.
“I plan on doing this for the rest of my life,” Jack said. “It made me feel like you don’t have to know who the person is you just have to have a heart and care.”
One day, he said he hopes to have 1,000 people shave their heads at the event.
Smith, who has signed up to have his head shaved, said, “The best way for people to get involved … is to come in and put a little money down on our heads.”
How it works
Volunteers, called “shavees” will shave their heads in support of the children who lose their hair to cancer treatments. They will then receive donations in their names from friends and family members who want to support them.
All of the money raised will go to the Children’s Hospital Foundation and help fund treatments for the more than 50 Chattanooga-area children who are diagnosed with cancer each year.
Greg and Kelly Heard vividly remember the day more than 12 years ago when they shaved their young son Cody’s head. The boy was battling a nerve tissue cancer called neuroblastoma, and the side effects of chemotherapy were just kicking in.
“His hair was coming out in patches, so I said, ‘Buddy, if you let me shave yours I’ll let you shave mine,” said Greg Heard. “He stood up on the commode and shaved it right off.”
Greg Heard keeps his head shaved as a tribute to Cody, who died shortly before his sixth birthday. And on Sunday afternoon, Cody’s younger brother Lucas, 15, joined his father, shaving off all of his hair at the Jack’s Chattanoggins event at the Chattanooga Market.
More than 60 people, ages 4 to 70, parted with their locks Sunday to raise money and show support for children who lose their hair during chemotherapy treatment.
The event, hosted by the Children’s Hospital Foundation, is named for Signal Mountain Middle-schooler Jack Skowronnek. Jack was inspired to get his head shaved two years ago by the book “Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie,” in which a boy shaves his head in solidarity with his little brother, who has leukemia.
Over the last two years, Jack, 12, has raised money through head-shaving events for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for childhood cancer research.
“I want kids to know it’s OK to be bald,” said the freshly-shaved Skowronnek, who usually sports what he calls “Justin Bieber hair.” A shaved head isn’t a sign of weakness, he believes: “It’s a sign of fight. It shows that people are alive and they are fighting.”
When the Children’s Hospital Foundation decided to hold its own head-shaving fundraiser, organizers asked Jack to be the face of the event.
The funds raised Sunday will primarily be directed to Erlanger’s Center for Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders.
Some participants raised money through sponsors online; others brought in checks. Bekki Deck, of Chattanooga, raised $1,800 online to shave her blond hair.
Deck, 31, admitted she was a bit nervous. “I mean, I had no idea what shaped head I had,” she said, laughing. But after the shave she said she felt “liberated” and happy to contribute something to the fight.
“We’ve all had our scares, and we all know someone impacted by cancer,” she said.
Many Chattanooga Market vendors donated a percentage of their Sunday sales to the fundraiser, said Ali Dunn, annual giving director with Erlanger Health System Foundations.
“It’s been really incredible to see how ready people have been to pitch in. Some of the stories we’ve seen today have been pretty incredible,” she said.
Other “shavees” included mothers who wanted to show their own children diagnosed with cancer how to be brave, and a man who hasn’t parted with his ponytail for decades, and Chattanooga Market owner Paul Smith.
Heard said the event was an important step for Lucas and for her family. They look for ways to remember Cody, who would have graduated high school this year.
“It’s something special. Sometimes you feel like people have forgotten about it, and so you just look for ways to keep remembering him,” she said.
Lucas said he plans to get his own head shaved each year as a tribute to his brother.
And if Jack Skowronnek has his way, there will be opportunities to do that every summer.
“I want it to keep going, and I want it to get really big and spread really far,” he said.
Written by Pulse Staff
June 27, 2011 – 8:04 am
In only its third year in existence, a local charity has set a new record. Jack’s Chattanoggins is the brainchild of 12-year-old Jack Skowronnek. When he was ten, he read a book that inspired him to shave his head to show kids with cancer that being bald was OK. He raised $1,200 that year. Last year he got about a dozen other people involved and raised $3,200. Sunday at the Chattanooga Market, the event saw more than 60 people shave their heads, raising more than $17,000, nearly half of that coming in direct donations during the event.
That money will stay right here in Chattanooga to be used at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger in the Pediatric Oncology Unit.