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Shaved heads battle cancer at Relay for Life on Whidbey Island

Oak Harbor Middle School Principal Shane Evans gets his hair chopped by science teacher and de facto school barber Alan Bailey Friday morning as part of a fundraiser for Relay For Life. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor Middle School Principal Shane Evans gets his hair chopped by science teacher and de facto school barber Alan Bailey Friday morning as part of a fundraiser for Relay For Life.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

With two employees battling cancer, the 2010 North Whidbey Relay for Life is especially important for the students, staff and faculty at Oak Harbor Middle School.

Assistant Principal Jeannette Gewald and art teacher Matt Young are both dealing with cancer. They’re also participating in the massive Relay for Life event benefiting cancer research. The event began Friday night at North Whidbey Middle School track and continues today.

Middle school students did their part by participating in a fundraiser in the weeks leading up to the Relay that culminated with shaving the heads of Principal Shane Evans and teachers Rebecca Roberts, Matthew Bousey and Michael Hunting. They had their heads shaved in front of the rambunctious and cheering student body Friday morning in the school’s gym. Oak Harbor Middle School teacher Duane Sisto filmed a video of Friday's assembly.

In previous weeks, students sold “Buzz off Cancer” buttons for $5 a piece. The more buttons that were purchased, the more teachers would get a buzz cut. It took until Wednesday to sell all 250 buttons to include all four people who volunteered for a hair cut.

“On the last day we sold the last ones to include her,” Gewald said, referring to Rebecca Roberts.

Gewald is currently undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma. She previously survived breast cancer in 1988.

Roberts, who coordinated the fundraiser, said she got the idea when Gewald joked that several of her friends would shave their heads when she started chemo.

The button drive alone raised nearly $1,700 for cancer research.

Adding online donations, the Oak Harbor Middle School Relay for Life team raised more than $4,700 for cancer research and is still striving for more.

“We’re easily going to be over $5,000,” Roberts said.

More than 30 people associated with Oak Harbor Middle School are part of its Relay for Life team.

In all, 118 teams comprising 1,600 participants and 250 cancer survivors are participating in the 2010 North Whidbey Relay for Life. The relay started Friday evening with a survivors’ social at 5 p.m. and the opening at 6 p.m. Participants and cancer survivors will be walking around the North Whidbey Middle School track until 2 p.m. today, June 5. The fundraising goal is $182,000.

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