Keenan Manning is only 10, but last September he was confronted with a grown-up reality.
His grandma was diagnosed with cancer. It’s the sort of news that hits a family hard. Cancer had already claimed the life of his grandfather, and, seven years ago, a beloved family friend lost her battle with the disease.
As his grandma’s diagnosis sunk in, Keenan – a blond who just happens to sport the longest hair in the family – decided to donate his locks to the fight.
“I’m going to go absolutely bald,” Keenan says, anticipating the morning of April 26, when he’ll have his hair shaved off at a school assembly.
A few of the other kids will be joining him in the Shave to Save event, too. Some will be getting a pattern shaved in their hair instead of going completely bald, in exchange for pledges of cash.
“There are three that are shaving, and one that’s getting a design, and maybe another might be getting a design if it’s OK with his mom,” says Keenan, who attends Topham Elementary in Langley.
While Keenan and the other kids’ hair will be donated to make wigs for cancer patients, proceeds from pledges – and the $1,500 in donations he’s already collected and growing – will be given to the Terry Fox Foundation to fund cancer research.
Terry Fox’s dad, Rolland (“Rolly”) Fox, has graciously agreed to do the hair-cutting honours – a fact that has excited and thrilled young Keenan, who studied up on Terry and the Marathon of Hope.
“I would call him a hero – and someone who inspires me,” says Keenan, who’s happy other students are getting involved and helping raise money.
After deciding to donate to the Terry Fox Foundation, Keenan and his mom Kathy hit the library and got out every book on Terry Fox they could find.
As they read about Terry and his Marathon of Hope, Keenan uncovered all sorts of intriguing facts. Like how Terry took two, five-gallon bottles to the shore in Newfoundland, where he started his journey on April 12, 1980. He was going to fill both up with sea water. One bottle he would pour into the Pacific when he finished his run. The other he was going to keep as a souvenir.
Well, a wave caught one of the bottles and it was lost forever. Was it a sign that Terry wasn’t meant to finish his marathon? They wondered. Terry was forced to halt his cross-Canada run after completing 3,339 miles.
Keenan also discovered he and Terry share the same birthday: July 28.
These days, Keenan’s grandmother is recovering well.
And shaving his head isn’t all he’s doing to raise money in the fight against cancer. This Saturday (10:30 a.m., April 20), the Clova Cinema in Cloverdale hosts a movie fundraiser for Keenan’s cause.
Tickets are $10. All proceeds will go to the Terry Fox Foundation. For tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The family has also opened a bank account for Keenan’s fundraising campaign.
Donations can be made at any Bank of Montreal branch. The account transit number is # 07640.