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Many put their locks on the line for cancer event

By Christina Killion Valdez

ckillion@postbulletin.com

His sister might not be up to it, but 7-year-old Jackson Schneider of Plainview is looking forward to shaving his head Saturday.

Jackson is among 46 area residents who’ve already signed up to get their heads shaved during a fundraising event in Rochester for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which supports childhood cancer research. Joining Jackson under the razor will be his uncle and 4-year-old cousin.

"My sister wanted to do it," Jackson said, "But once we put a bag over her hair she didn’t want to do it anymore."

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Jackson, however, knows he looks good without hair.

While going through treatment for neuroblastoma, his hair, eyebrows and eyelashes fell out, said Jackson’s mother, MariClair Schneider. "It really didn’t bother him too much," she said.

Actually he thought it was cool that he and a good friend he made while going through treatment looked identical, she said.

He also thought it was cool to be honored at last year’s St. Baldrick’s event, where 34 people wound up looking like him. At that point his hair was just starting to grow back. This year he has a full head of dark blond hair. He hasn’t had cut it since February or March just for this occasion.

"I thought for a while and then thought, ‘Hey, I think I should shave my head. Some other kids did it, why shouldn’t I?’" Jackson said.

It’s the same thought process Dr. Corey Iqbal had before he and his wife, Amber Iqbal, started organizing St. Baldrick’s events in Rochester.

"I have a friend in St. Louis, who is a pediatric resident, who shaves his head every year at a St. Baldrick’s event there. So every year I’ve been sending him a check," Iqbal said.

Last year, Iqbal looked online for a local event that he could get involved in. When he didn’t find any, he organized one in less than a month.

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"When we started planning it out, the idea seemed a bit crazy," Iqbal said.

It turned out the idea wasn’t off the mark at all.

"What we’ve learned is a lot of people out there want to shave their head in this format," he said. "They have a family member or friends with cancer, and this is an opportunity to shave their head as a sign of solidarity with a loved one."

Iqbal himself was among the shavees.

"It was not much of a price to pay," he said. "I do not have much hair to begin with."

He also agreed to shed his beard. "It was my first time in 10 years being clean shaven."

He’ll do it again this year.

"I managed to raise more money this year, not because I have any more hair," he said.

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St. Baldrick’s is about more than fundraising, Iqbal said. The main goal is to honor children with cancer and raise awareness about childhood cancer, which is the No. 1 disease killer of children in the United States.

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