The Wilson family continues to give back to children with cancer, and once again it is hair-related.
Simmy Wilson, son of Jessica and Joey Wilson of Toco Hills, decided for his bar mitzvah project to shave his head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-powered charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long, healthy lives.
Simmy, a seventh-grader at Atlanta Jewish Academy, has raised over $5,000 for St. Baldrick’s this year, in addition to money he raised in previous years.
He participated in one of several events around Atlanta on Friday, March 11, at Fado Irish Pub in Buckhead.
“I did this because I thought I was lucky to not have cancer, and there are kids that are not lucky. So I wanted to raise money for them to find a cure for them,” Simmy said. “Also, my dad raised money for St. Baldrick’s for the past 11 years.”
The Wilson family found out about St. Baldrick’s 11 years ago from friends working at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. Simmy watched his father shave his head for St. Baldrick’s all those years, and the son has joined the father in having his head shaved the past three years.
Simmy and Joey shaved their heads as part of the AFLAC team at Children’s at Scottish Rite. The entire team raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“It felt like I really wanted to do it much more this year because it was for my bar mitzvah,” Simmy said. “And I got my friend to do it with me.”
That friend raised $1,000 for St. Baldrick’s by having his head shaved.
Simmy has gotten a lot of positive feedback for St. Baldrick’s from his peers as well as from adults. Many of his friends donated money for him to shave his head, and about 10 friends came to watch and cheer him on along with his relatives.
Oftentimes at St. Baldrick’s events, children who are sick attend, as do doctors and nurses who are treating sick children.
“Sometimes it’s very emotional because you’ll see surgeons having their patients whose lives they have saved shaving their heads,” Jessica said. “It’s a really nice things to witness. The patients would come and shave the surgeon’s heads.”
Two years ago, Jessica and Joey Wilson took their children to a hospital to teach them that cancer could happen to anyone, even children. There was a boy they visited in the hospital who was exactly Simmy’s age. A month after the visit, the boy died.
“Simmy really felt like ‘That could be me because he’s no different than me. He just happens to have cancer,’ ” Jessica said. “That was important for me to teach him. Cancer isn’t one of these diseases you can catch or that you need to stay away from. It just happens.”
Simmy will be called to the Torah to become a bar mitzvah Saturday, May 7, at Young Israel of Toco Hills.
It’s not too late to donate to Simmy’s St. Baldrick’s fund. Just go to www.stbaldricks.org/participants/simmy.