Tim Kenny knew the charity he helped establish to fight childhood cancer wasn’t done raising money, but he thought St. Baldrick’s Foundation had pretty much buried the stigma of baldness that young fighters of the disease once bore.
Then, he heard about Kamryn Renfro. The 9-year-old Grand Junction, Colo., girl shaved her head to show solidarity for her pal, Delaney Clements, who is fighting cancer and lost her hair after starting chemotherapy. When Kamryn showed up for school at the Caprock Academy Monday, she was told she was violating the dress code and couldn’t come back without a wig.
“The whole reason we chose head shaving was to be in solidarity with kids who are going through treatment. I can’t believe people could miss the point like this.”
- Tim Kenny, co-founder, St. Baldrick's Foundation
“That is absolutely ridiculous,” Kenny, whose organization has raised more than $207 million for childhood cancer treatment by using head-shaving as a device for collecting pledges. “We started this foundation to raise awareness about childhood cancer and to raise money for research.
“The whole reason we chose head shaving was to be in solidarity with kids who are going through treatment,” Kenny added. “I can’t believe people could miss the point like this.”
Kamryn was back in class on Tuesday, and a staff member told FoxNews.com that the school ‘s board of directors planned a closed-door meeting that night to discuss the situation.
With her parents' approval, Kamryn shaved her head in support of her friend, 11-year-old Delaney. The girl told a local news outlet she just wanted to make her friend feel better.
“I was really excited I would have somebody to support me and I wouldn’t be alone with people always laughing at me. I would at least have somebody to go through it all,” Delaney told Fox affiliate KDVR.
But Caprock Academy, has a policy against shaved heads for girls, and school officials told her she couldn’t come back to class until she got a wig or her natural hair grew back.
Kamryn’s mother emailed the school explaining why she got the extreme haircut, but administrators at first said they couldn’t make exceptions.
The dress code "was created to promote safety, uniformity, and a non-distracting environment for the school's students,” Catherine Norton Breman, president and chair of the academy's board of directors, said in a statement. “ Under this policy, shaved heads are not permitted."
St. Baldrick's CEO Kathleen Ruddy said the incident in Grand Junction can be a "teachable moment," if the grownups come to their senses.
“We believe that bald is beautiful, and we believe Kamryn Renfro is beautiful for standing by her friend," Ruddy said. "Childhood cancer is out of the closet, and it is a reality that we have to face that cancer is not going away anytime soon. It’s the right thing to do to celebrate kids who are standing up for their friends.”
St. Baldrick's and the 85,000 volunteers who work for it have shaved more than 350,000 heads at events around the world since 2000. People pledge donations to the "shavee," with the money going to childhood cancer research. And Ruddy pointed out that if Kamryn's neighbors want to get involved, the foundation is holding a head-shaving fundraiser at Grand Junction's Edgewater Brewery, at 905 Struthers Ave., on June 28.