CRESTVIEW — Gretl Stenske and her son, Zac, would give anything to help Katie Mitchell, a 3-year-old receiving treatment for leukemia.
"Anything" includes all the hair on their heads.
Gretl and Zac, 15, will have their heads shaved on Sunday at the Pensacola Bayfront Stadium, where more than 100 teams will support children with cancer.
Spreading the message
“By doing this, I feel like I can be ... a walking billboard for this disease,” Gretl said. “I felt like I needed to do this in order to get the message across.”
Her message is that more needs to be done to beat childhood cancer.
Four percent of federal funding goes toward childhood cancer research, according to the St. Baldrick Foundation website. The foundation, which raises awareness and funds for childhood cancer research, will benefit from the “Praying for Carolyn” head-shaving event on Sunday. The event will raise awareness for Carolyn Hendrix, a 5-year-old Pensacola resident with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare bone cancer.
Stenske and her son are among five participants in the Katie vs. Cancer team, which has raised more than $2,200 of a $5,000 goal.
'We are blessed'
Stenske, who moved to Crestview three years ago, said she is inspired by the community's support.
Walker Elementary School students made donation boxes to leave at Crestview businesses including Kelly’s Automotive, Stephanie’s House of Styles and White Sands Tanning, among others.
In addition, supporters have followed Katie's progress on the Katie vs. Cancer Facebook page.
“To see how this community has surrounded this family is phenomenal,” Stenske said.
Fort Walton Beach resident Kim Luckie has raised more than $1,200. Luckie — who will also have her head shaved — works for ERA American Realty, which employs Katie’s mother, Jaime.
The company is organizing July 1 and 2 blood drives at several ERA American Realtor locations in Okaloosa County. The ERA American Charitable Foundation will donate $25 to the Mitchell family for every blood donation, with a $10,000 limit.
Jaime appreciates all the support.
“It’s been hard, but we are blessed by all of the help we have received,” she said.
What: St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser
When:2 p.m. Sunday
Where:Pensacola Bayfront Stadium, 351 W. Cedar St., Pensacola
Notes:Benefits childhood cancer research; visit bit.ly/1iH9Lu0 for details on the Katie vs. Cancer team
What: Blood drive supporting Katie Mitchell and family
When:Noon to 5 p.m. July 2
Where:ERA American Realty of Northwest Florida, 938 S. Ferdon Blvd., Crestview