Celebrating a decade of going Bald for Bucks: Austin’s story

Celebrating a decade of going Bald for Bucks: Austin’s story

It’s not every day you meet someone who’s willing to shave their head completely bald for cancer research, but for high-school junior Austin Russell, it’s tradition. Every year for the past decade, Austin has had his hair buzzed off and raised critical funds for Bald for Bucks. This year marked his 10th anniversary, and he commemorated the milestone with a moment that brought his journey full circle.

Austin’s Bald for Bucks journey started in second grade. His family had moved back to the United States from Germany to be closer to Austin’s grandfather, Steven, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood disease. Austin and his grandfather were always close, and at just seven years old, Austin sought out a way to show his support. That’s when he heard that his school, Lake Shore, was hosting a Bald for Bucks event. There was no question in his mind that he wanted to participate in honor of his grandfather.

The first year felt intimidating — after all, the event was held at the high school, and Austin was one of the youngest participants. The space was packed and full of people who wanted to talk to him about his why. He remembers speaking with the media and meeting DJ Anthony, an on-air radio personality and proud supporter of Bald for Bucks. Right before Austin got his head shaved, he remembers feeling a pang of worry. What would his friends think?

Flash forward ten years, and Austin realizes he had nothing to be concerned about.

Wear a hat if you're worried about people looking at you differently. Shave your head for a good cause. You're raising money; you're spreading awareness. There’s no downside.

Austin now has a decade of experience under his belt when it comes to having his head shaved. Some of his favorite memories are of watching the tiniest participants get their hair cut for the cause or of seeing teachers dress up in costumes to commemorate the occasion. Lake Shore’s Bald for Bucks event just seemed to grow bigger and more exciting every year.

In recent years, the pandemic has changed how Austin has participated in Bald for Bucks — bringing the event online to a virtual space — but it has not changed his why. It all comes back to his grandfather, who, after two successful bone marrow transplants, continues to overcome obstacles and manage his cancer. That includes supporting Austin’s yearly effort to raise money for Bald for Bucks.

“My grandpa’s been a big part of my life. It’s hard to put into words, but he taught me how to shave and he’d drop anything if I needed help,” Austin says. “He means a lot to me.”

In that full-circle moment mentioned earlier, Austin’s grandfather even wielded the razor for this year’s virtual event through Lake Shore. As it turned out, the shaving equipment his grandfather had on hand proved to be too dull to get through Austin’s hair. They shared a laughed, and then Austin hit up Super Cuts. Luckily, that didn’t discourage Austin, who says he will still go bald in 2023 for his senior year.

Thank you to Austin for ten great years!

Go Bald for Bucks today!