Students at Harold Junior High Panabaker School got the chance to show their support for children’s cancer research Thursday. Twenty-nine students, as well as the principal of the school, participated in a massive shave-off as part of Shave Your Lid for a Kid. While it wasn’t the first time the junior high school had raised money for cancer research, the event was particularly personal for father-son duo Andrew and Ethan Rau.
Twelve-year-old Ethan was inspired to organize the event for Kids Cancer Care after losing his grandfather, Cliff Rau, to throat cancer last June. His father, Andrew, supported Ethan’s fundraising efforts by agreeing to not cut or trim his beard until his son had raised $3,000.
Over the course of the school year, Ethan raised over $5,000, a sum that was matched in a gift donation by his grandfather’s former employer, Olympia Benefits. As a result, he not only got to shave his own hair, but also shaved nine months of his father’s “hipster beard” in front of the entire school during the shave-off.
“It’s been a long time, I never realized it was going to get this big,” said Andrew in the last minutes he spent with his beard. “I might actually go through a bit of separation anxiety.” Andrew works with Canadian Natural Resources as a field data reporting analyst, and admitted that his bushy beard was cause for a lot of raised eyebrows when going downtown.
“The wife will be very happy to see it go,” Andrew joked.
Ethan’s family has been touched by cancer in the past. While his paternal grandmother, Carol Rau, and family friend Carol Moore both survived their battles with breast cancer after being diagnosed six years ago, his paternal grandfather passed away in June 2015 after a 16-month-long battle with throat cancer.
Shortly after his grandfather’s passing, Ethan’s next-door neighbour Darren Kuhn was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
“Ethan was really supportive there,” Andrew recalled. During Kuhn’s surgery and chemotherapy, Ethan helped his neighbour by mowing Kuhn’s lawn and shoveling his sidewalk.
“It was definitely pretty hard, because people don’t really deserve to be going through cancer like that,” said Ethan. “And I just wanted to help everybody who does go through cancer.”
“What he’s done and how he’s affected this whole school…it’s absolutely amazing,” said Ethan Rau’s mother, Janay Rau, who attended the event in support of her son and husband. “I’m so proud of him.”
On Thursday, students of Harold Panabaker School reached their $25,000 goal.
Kids Cancer Care seeks to assist children suffering from cancer by providing funding and programming in the areas of research and hospital, education support and scholarships, and camp and outreach programs.
For more information, visit kidscancercare.ab.ca
With files from David Boushy