Cancer doesn’t care about race, gender or age, according to Christine Wages.
Wages, the parent of a child with cancer, said there is surprisingly little support for the smallest cancer fighters.
“From a federal funding standpoint, childhood cancer only gets 4 percent, or four cents on the dollar,” said Christine Wages. “That’s ridiculous.”
Christine and her husband, Scott Wages, are the parents of Tyler Wages, an eighth-grader at North Hall Middle School diagnosed in 2013 with a facial solid tissue cancer. The Wages, other survivors and the North Hall community gathered Monday evening for a fundraiser to benefit CURE Childhood Cancer, a nonprofit based in Atlanta.
The event was held at The Fringe Hair Studio in Gainesville and sponsored by Weber Dental and Kona Ice. The salon asked for donations in exchange for face painting, hair styling, head shaving, manicures and more, and all proceeds for the salon and Kona Ice would be donated to CURE.
Several children had their hair temporarily dyed gold, the color of childhood cancer awareness. Others had their head shaved. Lori Cooper, who works with Christine Wages at Cargill, donated her hair.
A number of “local heroes,” or childhood cancer fighters, were present Monday, including Tyler Wages, who had a follow-up visit Monday afternoon and is doing well; Eli Ligon, who is feeling well after a recent cancer-free diagnosis; Anna Lee Weber, who survived a cancer diagnosis at 3 years old; and third-grader Max Greene, who had his first visit to survivors clinic three weeks ago.
“He was diagnosed in 2009 with neuroblastoma,” said Brannan Greene, Max’s mother. “He’s doing really well.”
North Hall Middle School Principal Shane Rayburn also attended the event. He walked in with a head of bright gold hair and left with it all shaved off.
Rayburn gave his students fundraising “benchmarks” for the month. The first was $3,000, at which point he would dye his hair gold. If students met the second benchmark, or $6,000, he would shave his head.
“We have four students in our building who are survivors or still fighting,” Rayburn said. “So it’s something we see right here, every day.”
Christine Wages said she was particularly motivated to fundraise after she went to a luncheon last week held by CURE for local mothers of children with cancer.
“To see 10 moms from the Gainesville area alone who had cancer or are currently going through cancer is just very disheartening,” Christine Wages said. “Even in the doctor’s office today, waiting for all the kids to come in and out of their appointments, I just want to break down in tears because of it all.
“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.”
Scott Wages agreed, saying he and his wife became advocates for the other parents who will go through what they have.
“Cancer is more than a bald head, and it doesn’t discriminate,” he said. “But no child should have to go through this.”