While White River Wolverine fans were cheering for their football teams on Sunday many parents, kids, football players and their coaches were supporting a different team by getting their head shaved for Howie the Cancer Ninja.
For $10, fans of Black Diamond resident Howie Koch, also known as Howie the Cancer Ninja, could get their head shaved to show their support for the three year old.
Melissa Sabin and Jessie Tranquilla, friends of Howie’s mother Jenna, volunteered to shave heads during the football scrimmages.
“Jenna would do this for anybody else in a heartbeat,” said Sabin. “This is all about bringing hope to Jenna.”
Howie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was two. Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the adrenal glad, and often sits on the kidney, and is most common in children under the age of five, according to the Mayo Clinic. Howie had the tumor removed last April after several rounds of chemotherapy, but relapsed in July before he could get a bone marrow transplant. Howie has now started a new round of chemotherapy.
Both Howie and his mother could not come to the event because Howie was receiving a blood transfusion.
However, everyone who had their head shaved had their pictures taken to show Howie how many people support him.
Jennifer Wallin, a childhood friend of Howie’s mother, also volunteered to help at the event. Wallin said that Howie’s diagnosis hit her hard, but she is amazed at both Howie’s and Jenna’s strength. “I see how positive Jenna is and how all of this has made her stronger,” Wallin said. “Her strength gave Melissa and I more fuel to do good for them.”
Howie is also involved with several other fundraising and donation events for the next month. There is a blood drive at the Black Diamond Community Center on Aug. 24, and during the month of September, Howie’s Hometown Heroes will be accepting donations and recording all the miles participants walk, run, and bike for Howie. For more information, check out Howie the Cancer Ninja’s Facebook page and Alex’s Lemonade Stand.