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Braving the shave: Monroe fifth-grader shaves head for St. Baldrick's
Fifth-grade student Ethan Towne, 11, has his head shaved with the help of Tara Stauffacher from Studio 906 and friend Kyle Black inside Parkside Elementary on Thursday after raising nearly $1,400 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)

To donate online

Donations to Ethan Towne's St. Baldrick's Foundation head-shaving fundraising effort can be made online. Visit and enter Ethan Towne in the search field at the top of the homepage. Donations support research into childhood cancer.

MONROE - He cringed, patted his head one last time, and then braced himself.

"Goodbye, old friend," said Ethan Towne on Thursday to his shaggy, mid-length hair as his classmates cheered. And with that, the buzz of stylist Tara Stauffacher's electric shaver kicked in.

A few minutes later, the Parkside Elementary School fifth-grader was completely bald, but Ethan had a satisfied feeling knowing his sacrifice had raised nearly $1,400 for childhood cancer research as part of the "St. Baldrick's" campaign.

Before the shaving, Ethan addressed his peers with a speech.

"Thanks to all of you who have donated," he said. "It really touches my heart."

Then he got down to the nitty gritty.

"Who wants to make a difference in the world?" Ethan asked them. All the hands went up.

"OK, who wants to something like this sometime soon?" he asked. Needless to say, not quite as many hands went up.

But Towne's ability to go the extra mile for others is no surprise to his mother, Tracy Towne.

"He's that type of kid," she said of Ethan. "His music teacher (Jill Leuzinger) calls him "Dr. Phil' because he's always trying to help other kids with their problems. When he plays sports, he's the one helping up another kid while the game's still going on."

Tracy Towne said Ethan also relates personally to what it's like to lose hair due to chemotherapy.

"His grandmother is a breast-cancer survivor from five years ago," she said. "So he saw up close what that fight is like."

Ethan's recruitment efforts went beyond his school.

"He was at church Sunday (Apple Grove Lutheran in Argyle) asking people directly for donations," Tracy Towne said. "He's really into it."

Meanwhile, Stauffacher, who works at Studio 906, was recruited to do the dirty work.

"A co-worker was asked to do it, but she was too afraid," said Stauffacher, whose employer presented Ethan with a $100 check. "I agreed to step up, but it's not like something I'm experienced with. Let's just say that not many people request this type of haircut.

"I hope he knows that once I start there's no turning back."

Shaving a head may sound simple, but Stauffacher said it's not.

"You have to take it off in sections and first shorten it up a bit," she said. "You can't just blast away."

That message was vital, considering Ethan recruited three classmates to help - Taylor Rufer and Kyle Black learned Wednesday they'd be assisting, and Kaitlyn Murphy didn't know until seconds before the event.

"I'm not sure why he picked me," Murphy said nervously.

You'd think they were more likely interested in results than technique, but all three were actually quite careful.

"You've got the moves, mister," Stauffacher told Black afterward. At the same time, Rufer was pocketing some strands of the hair as a souvenir.

Ethan's parents and grandparents were on hand, wearing "Brave the Shave" T-shirts, and filming the event for posterity - and something good to show a first girlfriend someday.

What were Ethan's final words?

"My head is cold."