April 10, 2013 | 942 views
Bald-ly supporting a friend in need
Sixth-graders go bald to help a classmate
Doug Gonzalez, a Rockville Centre sixth-grader, used to be the only boy in his class who was bald.
But friends, family and classmates have rallied around Doug, who lost his hair due to brain cancer treatments. They worked together to raise more than $21,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, shattering the $5,000 goal they had set. And many of the boys in Doug’s class showed up at the St. Baldrick’s event at St. Agnes Parish Center on March 23 and had their heads shaved to show solidarity with Doug.
Many of the sixth-grade girls, along with students of all ages from the middle and high schools, volunteered to sell merchandise, clean tables and run arts-and-crafts booths at the event.
Powder blue T-shirts peppered the crowd, each emblazoned with two bold black words that have become a rallying cry: Doug Strong.
“Dougie is the latest of several kids in Rockville Centre to get cancer, and they’re beating him up terribly to kill it,” said John Bender, one of the co-founders of St. Baldrick’s and a supporter of Doug’s cause. “It’s great to see his teachers, family, coaches, and even students from other schools come together to support him.”
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, co-founded in 2005 by Bender and his friends Tim Kenny and Enda McDonnell, is a nonprofit organization that raises funds worldwide for research into cures for childhood cancer. By 2012, it had raised $100 million.
Other local groups have taken up Doug’s cause, including the RVC Moms and a Facebook group called Help Doug Gonzalez. The latter, led by South Side High School junior Forrest Butensky, has raised over $1,000 by holding bake sales.
“I was nervous at first when organizing the group, because kids in the high school, they don’t really know who Dougie is, so I didn’t know if they would want to help,” Butensky said. “But after a few weeks, kids want to bake, their moms are volunteering to bake, and at school, people keep asking me when we’re having more sales.”