YONKERS, N.Y. – A haircut never felt so good for one group of Yonkers students and their teachers.
More than three dozen students and staff at Robert C. Dodson are sporting new hairdos Thursday after shaving their heads and snipping their long locks in a show of solidarity for a cancer-stricken classmate.
The emotional one day shave-a-thon inside the school auditorium, run in partnership with St. Baldrick’s Foundation, drew both tears and cheers as students honored classmate Simón Burgos-Bye, a Dodson 8th-grader who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.
“I hope it will boost his spirit and he’ll see we are all encouraging him to fight this cancer because nobody wants him to have cancer,” said 7th-grader Edward Bangari. “He’s such a good kid.”
Burgos-Bye was diagnosed in February with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor. He had to leave school at Dodson as he fought the disease with his first round of chemotherapy.
Burgos-Bye, a baseball player and avid New York Mets fan, is currently hospitalized at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx where he is scheduled to undergo knee surgery. His treatment is expected to last until December and he likely won’t return to school this year, teachers said.
“It’s sad. He’s such a great kid,” said 8th-grade teacher Maureen Lyons. “He loves the Mets and he loves baseball. He was getting to ready to start his baseball season and now he can’t play.”
Shortly after learning of her student’s diagnosis, Lyons said she got the idea to hold the fundraiser and hair cutting event. And Burgos-Bye’s classmates immediately jumped on board with the idea.
“Simone is very good friend of mine and when I learned about what he had I broke down crying,” said 8th-grader Alan Vargas. “I just wanted to do this for him.”
And so, on Thursday, with a nearly full auditorium cheering them on and chanting "Simón," nearly 40 students and teachers took the stage to have their hair trimmed.
The guys got a buzz while several girls chopped off their ponytails, donating the locks to Pantene Beautiful Lengths to make free, real-hair wigs for cancer patients.
“It’s a great idea because this will hopefully make him feel better,” said 13-year-old Bruce Estrada as he rubbed his hand over his bald head.
Bangari, 13, said he grew close to Simone when they would ride the bus home from school together. And when the time came, he didn’t give a second thought to shaving his head to support a friend.
“I have such respect for him,” he said. “I would cut my hair because there are a lot of people in the world who do not have hair because of chemotherapy.”
Outside the auditorium, students and staff sold “Team Simón” bracelets and organized a bake sale, with all the proceeds going towards cancer research.
Lyons told the students she couldn’t be prouder of their efforts.
“Most of us know Simone and we are confident that he will beat this terrible cancer,” Lyons said as her voice cracked with emotion. “And his brave fight has already made him great. He must be great to have so many of you give so much.”
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