Ten years ago, Mark and Melissa Nelson lost their son, Andrew, to neuroblastoma, a rare type of childhood cancer. On Saturday they decided to remember Andrew by holding a St. Baldrick's FUNraiser at the Sandpiper restaurant in Pocatello.
"It's a credit for the place that we live that people want to be involved and do these things," said Mark Nelson, Andrew's father and co-organizer of the event.
This isn't the first event held to raise money. In 2004 there was an event held at Wendy's.
"Andrew wasn't feeling well, so he went home early with some friends," said Melissa Nelson, Andrew's mother and co-organizer of the event. "And he said, 'When's the funraiser?' and they said, 'Honey, we were just at the fundraiser,' and he said, 'Aw! I missed all the fun!'"
So to remember his passing and spare families the loss of a child, the Nelsons decided to gain money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation and lose their hair.
"I have a lot of people who compliment my hair all the time," Melissa said. "I actually was thinking about that this morning, as I thought, 'Oh I'm not going to have to do my hair for a while.' But my sights have been on Andrew all along and what he went through. He was on life-support twice, and so I feel like it's worth it. I can do it. It's hair, it will grow back."
While Mark and Melissa said it was a lot of work to put the event together, they also said it was fun. Mark said it seemed like the right move to have an event that had never happened in the area before.
"When we investigated it we found out Pocatello and southeast Idaho had never had an event before," Mark said. "So this was an opportunity for us to do something new in Pocatello and give back to all those people who helped us when Andrew was sick."
Melissa said she decided to start the goal at $10,000. She said she hoped for $1,000 for each year Andrew was gone. But that plan quickly changed as the donations came pouring in.
"When I reached about $7,000, my husband said, 'We've got to up this to about $50,000.' And I thought, 'Are you kidding me? In Pocatello? We're never going to get that.' And we are over $40,000 already."
Another family who also came to support the cause was the Wrigley family. Megan and Josh Wrigley, along with one of their sons shaved their heads. Before the haircut started, Megan began to cry. Her 16-year-old son Tanner was sick at the same time Andrew was sick - but Tanner survived.
"Be informed about childhood cancer," Tanner said. When asked about what life lesson he's learned, he added, "People should live life to the best that they can, and enjoy it."
In total, 92 people left their hair behind, and the preliminary results for the fundraiser show they raised over $40,000. The event ended with the crowd gathered around Mark and Melissa as they sat on the stools for their turn to lose the hairdos. Both laughed, cried and cheered while holding hands and becoming
For more information about the St. Baldrick's Foundation, visit their website here: www.stbaldricks.org
For more information about this FUNraiser, click here: www.stbaldricks.org/events/mypage/10488/2014