Nine-year-old Alida Teghtmeyer remembers when she first told her best friend Leah Bentein, who is also nine, about her idea to raise funds for cancer research.
“We were going to puzzle club and I looked at Leah and said, ‘I kinda want to shave my head for cancer,’ and she said, ‘Me too!’”
From that simple exchange, “Alida and Leah’s Cancer Quest” at Prairie Waters Elementary School in Chestermere was born. Alida was inspired to shave her head when she learned that her grandmother had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.
“I thought if I shaved my head, more people would pay attention and help fundraise,” says Alida. Leah was inspired to help, too. “I feel so bad for the kids and the people who have cancer and how much it hurts and how many people pass away,” she says.
With the goal of raising $1,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation over three months, the friends put together posters advertising their campaign. With support from “the cancer club” (a group of 16 students who helped with the campaign) and teacher Janet Chapman, they held a bake sale in February and a loonie drive in the first two weeks of March, but the highlight of the fundraising effort took place on March 19 during a school assembly.
At the assembly, and in front of the school, Alida shaved her head along with Kristina Rentz, the school’s vice principal, and teacher Jeff Morey. (Leah had decided earlier on to dye her hair bright pink instead of shaving it off, because, in her words, “My hair is way too short already.”)
Alida and Leah ended up raising more than $10,000.
“I’m really proud of them,” says Nancy Teghtmeyer, Alida’s mom. “This was really their idea. They took full initiative.”
Nancy says before the campaign began, the two girls sat down with the Alberta Cancer Foundation in a boardroom meeting. The pair asked a number of questions about cancer and fundraising, including how far their money would stretch, how many different types of cancers there are and if cancer could be caught.
The girls decided to put their total fundraised money toward cancer research.
“A little thing can make a difference,” says Leah.
“Little things go a long way,” says Alida.