Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Four by four, the twenty linemen gathered at the South Carolina Electric and Gas office in Mount Pleasant take a seat and go under the clippers. As their co-workers and family members look on, each linemen has his head shaved clean and it doesn’t take long before the jokes start to flow. With the type of blunt honesty that you only get from close friends, one of the newly bald linemen is told – quite accurately – that he looks like Gargamel from “The Smurfs.” While it’s clear that a shaved head isn’t exactly the best look for some of the men, today is about more than just haircuts. These men are all giving up their hair to show young Emma Grace, daughter of fellow journeyman lineman Thad Bostian, that she isn’t alone.
Six-year-old Emma Grace of Mount Pleasant was diagnosed with leukemia this past Oct. 22 and following her most recent round of chemotherapy treatments, she has lost all of her hair. Her father Thad told his co-workers not to worry if he showed up to work one day without any hair. He said he would be shaving his head for his daughter, and being the group that they are, his fellow linemen weren’t going to let him do it alone.
“We’d all go out of our way to do anything for each other,” Thad says. “I hope that it will maybe put a little bit of faith back in the community. To see that with all the bad stuff going on in the world there’s still happy people who do nice things.”
Emma Grace watches things unfold from atop her father’s knee, a smile ear to ear. Later, when asked who looks best with a shaved head, she simply repiles, “Daddy,” before sheepishly burying her face in his chest. But for now, as she sits listening to all the heckles and chatter, she is anything but shy. Raising her voice above the din of laughter, she shows us all what courage and optimism truly are, assuring the men, “Don’t worry. It’ll grow back.”
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common form of cancer amongst children and teens, affecting more than 3,600 each year. Thankfully, recent studies show a dramatic rise in the number of successful treatments with more than 90 percent of cases going into remission.
To learn more about cancer in children or to learn how you can donate or volunteer your time, please visit the American Cancer Society website at www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerinchildren/.
Dustin Waters is one of our staff reporters and the staff copy editor. Follow Dustin on Twitter @MNreports for more news updates.