(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Students cheered on their classmates and teachers on Friday morning at Rampart High School during the 16th annual Bald for Bucks fundraiser.
Every year at the event, the school honors a Southern Colorado cancer survivor. This year it was Keenan Rodriguez, who was diagnosed with leukemia in June 2020 and entered remission in September 2022.
“It feels amazing and really we feel special,” said Keenan’s mom, Vanessa Ramirez. “I can’t even imagine how it feels with everybody… him meeting everybody, receiving all these gifts and all the love, we’re grateful.”
Students and staff can volunteer to shave their heads or cut off their hair to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Those who were signed up for the event wore a white t-shirt with Bald for Bucks designed on them.
Brayden Whiteny, a junior at Rampart High School, shaved his hair and explained why he felt called to donate.
“I’ve had family that’s also struggled with cancer,” Whitney said. “So as of today… I’ve donated $60 for the assembly and I’m also getting my hair shaved today.”
Another student was freshman Maya Russell, who similarly was donating her hair in honor of those battling cancer.
“My neighbor died of colon cancer last year, and my mom also has skin cancer, so it [means] a lot to me,” said Russell.
Volunteers filled the gym to help in cutting and shaving students’ and teachers’ hair. For Christina Cantrell, this was her first year volunteering and she had the biggest smile on her face.
“It’s overwhelming, I truly feel like the amount of support that everyone gives to everybody, it’s really encouraging,” Cantrell said. “And then you see like people with shorter hair, longer hair, all shaving it off and their haircuts look pretty terrible and they love it.”
Over the last 15 years, Rampart High School has raised $586,798. This year, the school is hopeful to hit fundraising efforts over $600,000.
The goal of the fundraiser is to bring awareness to the Southern Colorado community of those fighting against cancer.
“I’ve always loved Bald for Bucks and the community it brings, and it’s really amazing that I’m just part of it now,” Russell said.
Some students and faculty who didn’t sign up to donate were persuaded by their peers, including senior Chase Arnold.
“I just feel like I did something good, you know,” Arnold said. “I’ll grow it back and probably shave it off again… it’s for the experience so.”
If you missed the event and wish to support Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, you still can donate online.
What makes the day even more special is that Keenan is also celebrating his sixth birthday.
“I’m just full of gratitude, you know, that Keenan will celebrate another year of life and be healthy,” Ramirez said. “And I’m just so, so, so thankful that I have my son here. He’s healthy and he’s alive and we get to celebrate another birthday of his.”
When asked if this was a birthday he would always remember, Keenan’s parents both nodded in agreement.