Sometimes, you know you’re participating in something big. Something awesome. I had that feeling when Shannon Cronin originally put the word out that she was looking to build a team of photographers to cover One Mission’s Annual Buzz Off for Kid’s Cancer, that this was one of those things. I was right.
If you’ve never heard of One Mission, it is a fund that was built by Ashley and Ari Haseotes, when their son Nicholas, was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia when he was just seven months old. Through their journey with Children’s Hospital in Boston, Ashley and Ari decided to start One Mission to create programs to help families struggling through that same journey.
Four years ago, Ashley and Ari started the now annual Kid’s Cancer Buzz Off, where participants sign up to shave their head to raise money for Children’s Hospital. Starting with just 21 “Buzzees” in 2010, the event has taken off, and this past year, I was able to witness 876 Buzzees take their turn in a chair to have all of their hair shaved off. In that day, over nine hundred thousand dollars was raised.
The team arrived to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro early, and we watched as the Buzzees and their friends and families shuffled in to be assigned to their respective shave groups, and were invited to make signs to share why they were participating.
Here’s Ashley’s story in her own words.Ashley welcomed everyone to the area, and gave a heartfelt thank you to everyone, as she presented the groups donation to Children’s Hospital. After all of the opening ceremonies were complete, it was time. The first group of Buzzees were brought to their chairs, and with some nervous banter and smiles, the clippers were turned on, and the hum of the buzzing filled the area.
I thought there would be a lot more tears, and while there were plenty of Buzzees who were nervous, as soon as the process started, everyone was all smiles. After seeing themselves for the first time, everyone beamed. Light just poured from everyone’s eyes. We all knew we were part of something amazing.
One of the big sponsors of the day is Patriots player, Rob Gronkowski, who shaved his head for the third time this year. The 28 MVP Buzzees who raised the most money for the day were in his group, and were understandably excited. Even Rob couldn’t shake the last-minute jitters before he was buzzed! After Rob finished, he tried his hand at taking the clippers to the Buzzees, and joked that he had a second career in the making.After Rob’s shave group was complete, it was time for a media interview on the Buzz Off red carpet, and a quick pose with one very well-timed Buzzee!
The Red Carpet was one of my favorite parts of the day. One Mission put on a great after party for the Buzzees and their loved ones, and as they walked in, we took a group photo for anyone who was interested. This was where I got to really meet and spend time with the Buzzees, and share hugs, tears, and LOTS of laughing. This is Ella, the 11-year-old Buzzee who raised over two thousand dollars all on her own, and even encouraged Gronk himself to step up his fundraising efforts! She is one of the strongest little girls I’ve ever met, and is destined for great things. Thank you, One Mission, for allowing me to be a part of your event, and for doing what you do. I left Foxboro with a full heart. Most of all, thank you to each and every Buzzee who participated that day. It is people like you that make this world a better place to live. You are beautiful.