In her job as a physician assistant in the bone marrow transplant unit at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Elyse sees the effects of chemo in children each and every day. She says the hair loss makes them feel alone and different from other kids in a very real way, so when she was asked to shave her head to raise money for pediatric cancer research, she jumped at the chance.
What Elyse wasn’t expecting was for her nine-year-old daughter Clara to step up, too.
Elyse joined a team with six other colleagues to take part in a head shaving event sponsored by St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that aims to raise funds to help find cures for children with cancer. Each participant raises money through sponsors and then shaves their head in solidarity with cancer sufferers everywhere.
Since Clara has experienced childhood cancer through her mother’s work, she has a better understanding of what these children go through than most nine-year-olds. She also witnessed a beloved teacher fighting breast cancer, and she was eager to help.
“Kids don’t have a choice, and mommy was going to do it and I decided that I was going to do it,” the child explained.
Elyse admitted that she was surprised that Clara wanted to join the challenge. “I was shocked but really, really proud of her,” she said. “We actually gave her a couple of days to see if she would change her mind. We wanted her to make the choice.”
“Daddy did not think I was going to do it,” Clara added with a smile. Daddy underestimated his daughter’s bravery, because when the day came Clara was right there next to her mother watching her long, blonde locks fall to the floor of the barber shop!
Clara said that she wanted to participate in the event so that kids with cancer would feel less alone. Her mom agrees, stating, “These children are inspiring and their families are inspiring. They don’t have a choice to have cancer, and they’re so tough. It’s really a privilege and an honor to to get to know them and take care of them. It means a lot to them to know that we stand with them.”
Once the fundraising efforts were completed, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta shared that Elyse and Clara’s team, plus staff and families from the Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center, raised $35,734 for pediatric cancer research. Way to go, Clara and Elyse! Your compassion and empathy is literally a gift to the world.
Watch the video below to learn more about Clara and Elyse, and please share.
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