Salk beats old record — by a hair

Teachers might pull their hair out when their efforts don’t work out, but five Salk teachers lost their hair recently when the exact opposite happened.

“We issued a challenge to our staff and students that if they raised more money than ever before that four of us would shave our heads and I would shave my beard and have my head painted,” said Tom Stoll, science teacher at Elk River’s Salk Middle School.

The plan worked and Salk raised nearly $5,000 in the KS95 “Change for Kids” to benefit the Children’s Cancer Research Fund and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. The funds this nonprofit organization provides enable the University of Minnesota Cancer Center, a leading pediatric cancer research facility, to continue its pioneering efforts in the prevention, diagnoses, treatment and cure of childhood cancers. Many discoveries funded by Children’s Cancer Research Fund have revolutionized the way childhood cancer is treated worldwide.

“The economy is tough right now and there’s less money for people to donate so I knew we’d have to step it up this year if we wanted to beat our previous amount donated,” Stoll said. The Jopp family of Elk River initiated the fund-raising drive at Salk six years ago and Stoll has coordinated it ever since. He’s known by students and staff for some rather bizarre and humorous antics during the fund raiser, but this year was the most extreme. Four teachers offered their curly locks to the cause and publicly announced to the school that they would shave their head if the school raised enough money.

“I don’t have a lot of hair on top of my head,” Stoll said. “But I have a beard that none of the kids have seen me without and my head is a terrific canvas for an advertisement about the KS95 Change for Kids. So I figured why not put it to good use.”

Obviously, those extra incentives made the difference and Salk surpassed their previous record by 50 cents. They were also the second-ranked school in the state for the amount of money raised, beating their previous best ranking of third place.

This is the sixth year that Salk has participated in the campaign and the total amount raised by the school topped the $25,000 mark this year. “It really speaks to the generosity of our students and staff and the hope we all have of contributing to the research being conducted to end cancer,” Stoll said.

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