Brave the Shave: Helping kids and families battle cancer one bald head at a time

zakk-arenz

Brave the Shave honoree, Zakk, recently completed treatment for brain cancer.

Since its first event 10 years ago, Brave the Shave has exploded into a money-raising, hair-shaving frenzy. Over the years, nearly 2,200 volunteers have shaved their heads and raised $2.2 million for kids with cancer.

Today, as individuals and teams sign up to lose their locks, you may ask, “Why?” It’s for the kids. Every year, we honor the children in our communities who are currently battling cancer, those who have recently completed treatment, and those who have become angels. This year, Brave the Shave is honoring more than 60 of these “super kids.”

One of them is 11-year-old Zakkry Arenz.

Zakk likes to play video games, go swimming, play outside with his friends, read, and wrestle with his brother and sister. His favorite subject is science, and he loves baseball – his favorite team is the Minnesota Twins. He says when he grows up, he wants to either be a businessman or a psychiatrist.

Zakk was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, the most common type of brain tumor in children, in January 2016. Doctors in Mandan found the tumor and the next day the family was on their way to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, MN. “We packed for a weekend and were gone for 10 days,” says Zakk’s dad, Jon. Doctors in St. Paul removed the tumor and Zakk spent the next week and a half in the hospital.

It was during this time the Arenz family received a call from a Brave the Shave representative saying that Zakk was going to receive an iPad to help him keep up with his homework and stay in touch with his family and friends while he was receiving treatment. “We wondered, why would they do this? What do they want from us?” Jon says. “And the answer is nothing. They just want to help. It is an organization that gives and gives and gives without expecting anything in return. They just want to help people in our situation.”

After being released from the hospital following surgery, Zakk was able to spend the next two weeks at home before heading to Florida for the next eight weeks with his mom, Dawn, to receive proton radiation therapy.

These trips out of town continued for the next eight months, driving to Minneapolis once or twice a month for four or five days so Zakk could receive his treatments. Then in December, after a rollercoaster year, Zakk and his family received the news every family dealing with a cancer diagnosis longs to hear. Zakk is in remission.

After his last treatment, Zakk’s family hosted a “last day of chemo party,” and true to his caring, loving nature, Zakk asked that instead of bringing him presents, he wanted those in attendance to donate to one of the charities that helped his family through this difficult year. Brave the Shave was at the top of that list.

Read that story, Brave the Shave: Helping kids and families battle cancer one bald head at a time, which includes another honoree story, as well as how Troy Presser, a member of Basin Electric’s board of directors, is doing his part to help kids with cancer.

You can also learn more about Brave the Shave on its website, blog, Facebook page, by subscribing to its YouTube channel, or following it on Twitter.

Those interested in supporting Brave the Shave’s honorees can do so by donating to the cause, participating in the annual online auction, or attending one of the events being held in Basin Electric’s service area. Proceeds benefit area families through the Brave the Shave Family Fund and childhood cancer research through the Andrew McDonough Be Positive (B+) Foundation.

Following are videos featuring the touching stories of our honorees.

Scott Oothoudt, What Brave the Shave means to me

When Dash gets to ring the bell

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