Local/State

Person of the Week: Kaelin Gerdes

Friday, June 19, 2009

When you meet her, the first thing you notice about Kaelin Gerdes is her hair - or lack thereof. She's not sick, but by shaving her head, she's helping children who are - even though at first, it wasn't a popular decision.

"I had to talk to my grandmother, and she tried to talk me out of it," Gerdes recalled.

A few weeks ago, Gerdes went bald for the St. Baldrick's foundation, which raises money to cure kids' cancer. It's something her dad was doing, and out of the blue, Gerdes said she wanted to help too.

"I personally had no idea she was willing to do what she did to sacrifice what was a beautiful head of hair for the cause. I didn't think she was serious about it," said her father Tom Gerdes.

But it turns out, when Kaelin made her choice, she was thinking of a boy at school whose mom died of cancer.

"He had to go to our counselor at our school two times a day cause he was really sad," she explained.

"I was proud of her, I was so proud of her," said Kaelin's mother Alana Gerdes.

Alana takes part in breast cancer fundraisers after losing her own mother to the disease. Until now, she didn't realize that her daughter was so aware.

"It never fazed her. That's what just kept astonishing me. When she woke up she was fine, she came home from school she was fine, which made us feel good because she knows she made the right choice, there was no regret," she said.

Still, Kaelin's had to put up with some 'teasing' from other kids.

"All the girls in my class were really happy, but the boys were acting all weird and the boys my YMCA were calling me Britney Spears," she said.

Kaelin seems to take it all in stride though. These days, she wears baseball hats a lot and even has some fun with her new look.

While Kaelin's still very much a little girl, she has a huge heart and a sense of charity beyond her 8-years - proving no matter your age, everyone can make a difference.

To donate to her cause, go to: stbaldricks.org

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