Top charity spot lopped

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Curls cut for a cause: Benji Crossan, right, of Queenstown, and Joel Thompson, of Alexandra, after Benji shaved his hair to raise money for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.

A Queenstown teenager who shaved off his locks at the weekend is close to being one of the top individual fundraisers for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.

Benji Crossan, 14, decided to take part in Shave for a Cure 2017 in memory of his uncle, Bradley Ellingham, who died of cancer earlier this year.

He also wanted to recognise his cousin, Hailey Crossan, 18, who is originally from Invercargill but now lives in Oamaru.

Hailey was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a type of childhood blood cancer, in April last year.

Following a bone marrow transplant, with her younger sister Tyla the donor, she was now in remission.

Benji’s mother, Simone Flight, says until Saturday her son had not cut his hair in about 18 months.

The fundraising idea came after witnessing his cousin’s and uncle’s battles.

“Bradley died in May, so it was pretty fresh in his mind about cancer and the impact on people and the impact on people’s lives.”

The family organised a few fundraisers for Ellingham’s family, who found themselves without an income during his fight.

“He’s had this awareness there’s never enough money to help people,” Flight says.

“He’s just one of these wee thinkers and said ‘maybe I should do something for charity … maybe I can do something good with it’.

“He just popped out with it one day without even discussing it and just said ‘I’m going to shave my hair off one day and raise money for cancer’.”

The Junior Stampede under-17 ice hockey player initially aimed to raise $500, but then decided to challenge himself to raise another $2000.

To date, 55 people had helped him raise $4030 and he was now $305 away from being in the top 10 individual fundraisers in New Zealand.

Money he raised would be used to support people diagnosed with leukaemia or blood cancer.

Important information for patients could be funded with $35 and $50 would buy an emergency assistance voucher to ensure they could get to hospital for treatment or could buy food for their families.

A counselling session for a patient or grief counselling for a family member of a patient who had died cost $90, and $120 contributed to the cost of support group meetings around NZ, ensuring patients had access to information about their condition and could meet other patients going though a similar experience.

Former Highlanders and Crusaders halfback Ben Hurst was the biggest individual donor, giving $250 to Benji – that also gave him the right to be the first to run the clippers through Benji’s locks.

However, he nominated Benji’s ice hockey teammate Joel Thompson, 14, of Alexandra, to do the honours on his behalf.

Benji’s Shave for a Cure fundraising page will remain open for about another week and the teenager is now hoping to get his name in the top 10 individual fundraisers for the charity.

Otago Daily Times