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Kids war on cancer

Jaclyn Haynes couldn’t contain the nervous giggling as the hair stylist slowly, but surely, sheered away eight inches of her long, brown hair.

Haynes, a Tonawanda High School senior, was experiencing her first time donating hair to

Bald-4-Bucks and, quite frankly didn’t know what to expect.

But as the process continued Haynes calmly said she only had one regret-that she wouldn’t get to see the look on the face of the little girl who would be receiving her hair. “I feel great,” Haynes said with a smile. “It makes me feel good to know that the hair is gonna go to somebody who needs it. Even if I don’t really like it, because I really haven’t seen it yet. But if I don’t really like it it’ll grow back.”

Haynes, and volleyball teammate Maria Garbo, were among the dozens of kids who cut their locks and raised money during Tonawanda High School’s Bald-4-Bucks event that was held on March 15.

It was just one in a countless string of caring gestures made area youths as they selflessly, and without much fanfare, contribute in the war against cancer. “I know someone else definitely needs it a lot more than I do and I raised a lot of money,” said Garbo. “It’ll grow back. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Upon getting a full view of her hair after the eight inches were removed Haynes couldn’t help but smile when she got a good look at the finish product. Haynes smiled because deep down inside she knew she did the right thing for the right reasons. “Just thinking about it,” Haynes said. “Just to make some little girls’ day is gonna make my life so much better.”

Josh Bandemer, an 11-year-old sixth grader who attends Amherst Middle School, has his

spot in the barber’s chair all set for when his school holds its Bald-4-Bucks day in May.

Thankful to have his health and to be able to do things like play football and baseball, Josh Bandemer knows other kids his age aren’t as lucky. So he wanted to do his part to help kids who aren’t as fortunate as he is.

“All my friends are doing something good and all of the girls are doing it. So I thought I would do something good,” said Bandemer.

Bald-4-Bucks won’t be Bandemer’s first time helping in the war against cancer. As a fourth grader at Smallwood Elementary, Bandemere helped organize “wear a hat day” event where kids could wear a hat in school for a $2 donation. Josh raised $300 that day in support of his cousin Thomas Bala. A young cancer patient who is known on Facebook by his nickname, Sir Thomas the Mighty.

While the social media generation is tagged with the label of being self-absorbed “snowflakes” who don’t care about others, these kids prove that there are still plenty of young people in the world who get it. Kids understand the importance of giving back to their community more than they take away. Who understand that sometimes you just go that extra mile for others. Not for a pat on the back, but because it’s the right thing to do. “Yeah I’m really proud of myself for doing this fundraiser for Roswell Park,” Bandemer said. “I really hope I get to do something else like this.”

The Jakubowski family knows all too well what it means when you say the fight against cancer hits close to home. In November of 2015, Emmett Jakubowski, now 12 year’s old who attends Olmsted School, was diagnosed with two forms of Leukemia.

Last summer, Emmett gained notoriety in WNY as the youth ambassador of the 11 Day Power Play. An event that saw 40 men from Buffalo challenge the world’s record for the world’s longest continuous hockey game. Prior to the game, that was played at the HaborCenter, young Emmett told the 11 Day players, if I can beat cancer, you can play hockey.

For Emmett, serving as the face of the 11 Day Power Play simply wasn’t enough. He wanted to do more. Helping his school raise $10,000 during its Bald-4-Bucks day, Jakubowski said he wants to do more than raise money. He wanted to educate people about the disease. To show people that cancer is not something to be taken lightly, because it could happen to you or someone you love.

“I wanted the word of cancer to get out because when you have cancer you notice it’s so common and how many people have it,” Emmett said. “When you don’t have it you don’t know that there’s different types of cancer. You don’t know the forms of cancer. There’s blood cancer, all of that (information) I want to get out to people, in case they think blah blah they wanna make a joke about it. It’s serious.”

Emmett, and older brother Liam, will be lacing the skates up together this summer as part of Team Emmett’s Leukemia Warriors who will play in the youth division of the 11 Day Power Play Community Shift this July.

Having a mini panic attack while her hair was being cut Maria Garbo said donating hair

has two pluses. She knows she did something nice for others. Now, with shorter hair, maybe people will think she is older.

“People still think I’m a freshman so maybe now they’ll know I’m a senior,” Garbo said with a smile.

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