Since 2015, Amherst Middle School has raised over $75,000 for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center by Goin’ Bald for Bucks. Their 2018 event raised over $25,000 and had nearly 60 participants. We asked Amherst Middle School teacher coordinator, Dave Mansfield, about the school’s success.
Q. How did you and your school first get involved with Bald for Bucks?
A. In the spring of 2015, I decided to start asking around school to see if there was interest in holding a Bald For Bucks event. I had already Gone Bald on three previous occasions. Our high school held events in the past. The response seemed to be pretty favorable, so I decided to take a chance and start planning Amherst Middle School’s first Bald For Bucks fundraiser.
Q. What made you decide to start a Bald for Bucks event?
A. In October 2013, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. At that same time, I also had a couple of other family members going through cancer treatment. Cancer was hitting a little too close to home for me and I thought about what I could do to help in some way. Having participated in three previous events, I knew this was a good way to help in the fight against cancer and to show my students that could make a difference in the lives of someone they know who was dealing with cancer.
Q. Is your event in honor or in memory of someone special?
A. I personally am Goin’ Bald For Bucks in memory of Aunt Terri, Aunt Bernie, Delores Mrak and family friend Margie Sullivan. I am also Goin’ Bald For Bucks to honor and support my wife Suzanne, my father, my brother-in-law Shane, my cousin Joe, my niece Jessica, Uncle Mike, and family friend Lauren Merlino. They are all cancer survivors.
Q. What does into planning a Bald for Bucks event?
A. There is a lot of preparation goes into planning a Bald For Bucks event. There is so much to do In the months leading up to the event. You have to recruit members, show them how to fundraise, and teach them about what the Bald For Bucks movement is all about. It can be stressful at times because you want to put on an event that is engaging and fun, but yet gets the message across that cancer is a serious issue. You also want to respect the memory of those who have passed but honor the survivors as well. It can also be very fun. I get to meet and interact with students that I don’t usually deal with during the normal school day.
Q. What do you take away each year from hosting a Bald for Bucks event?
A. Each year I learn how students and teachers at my school have been affected by cancer. It is truly inspiring to see everyone working together to make a difference in the fight against cancer. This only strengthens my belief that one day we will live in a cancer-free reality.
Q. Do you have any advice for other teachers who want to plan an event at their school?
A. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You will be pleasantly surprised at how many people are willing to help and to volunteer their services. This is also a great way to teach your students that they can make a positive impact on society and have fun doing it at the same time.
Q. What makes your event unique?
A. Our event is unique because there is a lot going on at the same time. We have a DJ/emcee, trivia questions, guest speakers, and video screens. Each year, we create a presentation to honor all family and friends affected by cancer. It is a powerful and emotional event that takes place right before the hair cutting begins. This year we will have a camera that can pan out into the crowd to keep the audience engaged and to make it more of an interactive event. We are also introducing “Watch the Hair Pile Grow” segments.
Q. Tell us some of your best fundraising tips:
A. Don’t be afraid to contact local businesses to donate gift certificates to raffle off or to make a monetary donation. They will want to see that you are affiliated with a legitimate organization, so you will have to write a donation letter. Social media is also a great way to seek donations. Having a fundraiser at a local business where they donate a percentage of their sales to your Bald For Bucks fundraising campaign is another way to increase your fundraising total. Some of our students set up a table in front of their house like a lemonade stand, with Bald For Bucks signs to let people know why they are collecting donations.