Parker Stevens doesn’t think twice about doing things for others, so shaving his head to raise funds for children with cancer was a sacrifice he was well equipped to handle.
Last year, Parker’s father, Jeff Stevens, a web content optimizer at UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center, participated at an event sponsored by UF’s division of pediatric hematology and oncology. He and other volunteers shaved their heads to encourage friends and family to help raise funds for children in the hospital.
After learning that such an event was not scheduled this year, Parker, 10, decided to take matters into his own hands.
Since October, Parker has been telling his friends, family and neighbors that he would shave his head if they donate to the cause. He raised more than $2,100.
William Slayton, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and chief of the division of pediatric hematology and oncology at the UF College of Medicine, joined the effort Dec. 7 to receive a buzz cut along with Parker and his father.
“Parker’s awesome gesture of compassion and generosity is extremely impressive to me,” Slayton said. “We do this to try to relate to patients who go through chemotherapy.”
Parker was hospitalized a few times when he was younger because of asthma-like symptoms — that’s when he learned there are some children who are very sick and have to stay in the hospital.
“I’m getting my hair shaved today so I can help sick kids feel better,” said Parker, his long, dark hair glistening. “I remember how I felt when I got sick. I don’t want any other kids to feel sick.”
About of a dozen of Parker’s friends filed into the Communicore lobby on Wednesday as Parker, his father and Slayton played a few rounds of rock-paper-scissors to determine who would be the first to lose his locks. Once that was settled, Parker’s mother Kristin Stevens grabbed the buzzing electric shear. In short order, all three lost their locks in front of the crowd of friends, family, students and staff.
“When I first heard that Parker wanted to do this, I was surprised because he always loved his rocker drummer hair,” Jeff Stevens said. “I’m humbled and proud of him for wanting to do this.”