HEBRON ESTATES – It’s a feel-good story. Bullitt Countians helping a fellow Bullitt Countian. It’s an older kid helping out a younger kid.
It feels about as refreshing as a newly shaven head.
Matthew Stayton, a seventh grader at Hebron Middle School, had his mop of long hair shaved off as part of the annual St. Baldrick’s Day event.
St. Baldrick’s, the largest volunteer fundraising event for childhood cancer research, allows participants to collect sponsorship donations for having their heads shaved.
Matthew was part of a team collecting money in honor of Nathan Ing, a seven-year-old Shepherdsville resident who has lived with brain and spinal cord tumors most of his life.
“My family knew his family,” Matthew said. He mentioned that his grandparents and one of his teachers had dealt with cancer, which made him want to become active in some way.
“I was thinking about how I could raise money to help,” he said.
Matthew’s long hair began growing last year. Normally donning a shorter style, his strands grew to a length of about 14 inches.
“My bangs came down to my chin,” he said.
Originally considering a donation to Locks of Love, word of ‘Team Nate’ reached Matthew, causing him to redirect his charitable focus.
Once on track, Matthew collected and donated $330 for St. Baldrick’s, including large donations from his grandmother and a family friend.
The largest portion of the donation, about $260, came from Hebron Middle School. Principal John Barbagallo said the school hosted a ‘Jeans Day’ in which students could donate a dollar to where denim.
“We regularly host Jeans Day for good causes,” said Barbagallo. “Anytime we want to raise money this is a good way to do it.”
Barbagallo said the Hebron staff was ready to support Matthew’s cause once they learned of it.
“He was doing this nice thing and not really publicizing it, which is impressive to see from someone his age,” Barbagallo said.
With the money collected, Matthew had one thing left to do: Lose the hair.
Located at Fourth Street Live in Louisville, Matthew took a seat in the first row of barber’s chair on a stage in front of hundreds of strangers. He saw some women with longer hair than his, but not many.
“It was pretty weird,” he said. “I was up there for about a minute and a half. It was torture when they only shaved the one side.”
Matthew and the other members of Team Nate helped over 400 participants raise more than $200,000 for St. Baldrick’s.
Matthew didn’t mind the drastic change in looks too much since it was for such a good cause. He expressed hope that it all helps children like Nathan.
“By the time it rolls around next year I’ll be able to do it again,” he said.
“Matthew, in doing something like this, was very mature,” said Barbagallo. “It’s unusual to see such compassion at that age.”
Many of Matthew’s teachers shared the praise. His fellow students were taking it in stride, too.
“I’m getting slapped in the head a lot,” said Matthew. “There’s nothing there to protect it now.”
For more information on St. Baldrick’s visit their Web site, www.stbaldricks.org.