Buzz Off and its Mission inspired by Southborough founders’ own struggles – Sunday at Gillette

Above: One Mission asks people to Buzz Off their hair to help bring smiles to children who were unable to keep theirs. The event and the cause it supports were inspired by a Southborough family’s own experiences fighting cancer. (images from Facebook)

Thousands of people will be flocking to Gillette Stadium this Sunday. Since it’s June, you know it’s not for a football game.

The venue is again hosting One Mission’s Buzz Off for Kids with Cancer. The event raises funds to help make life better for children fighting cancer and their families. Funds raised will support One Mission’s goal:

Helping kids and families get through cancer treatment – one day at a time.

But it’s more than a fundraiser. Its a way to raise spirits and help kids feel less alone.

Ashley with her son Nicholas at Children's HospitalOne Mission was founded by Southborough parents with a personal connection to the cause. Ashley and Ari Haseotes spent six months basically living at Boston Children’s hospital after their seven month old son was diagnosed with a rare form of lukemia.

Thankfully, their son has now been cancer free for twelve years. As explained on their website:

During their journey, they identified many ways life could be improved for patients and families during treatment and hospitalization. Their experience inspired them to start a foundation that would address those needs and make life easier for pediatric cancer patients and their families.(pic from Facebook)

The first project One Mission took on was directly from the Haseotes’ experience. Ashley told me that she got frustrated sharing one, infrequently cleaned out, refrigerator with many families all living at the hospital. One day, fed up, she called her husband and asked him to buy and bring in a mini fridge. It made such a big difference, she wanted to do the same for others. Their success led to the hospital taking over responsibility for maintaining and replacing fridges.

One Mission funds yoga for children and caregivers to help them deal with the stress of cancer treatmentNow the charity helps families through paying for parking, birthday parties, catering, art therapy, decorating kids’ rooms, toys, a special “Noodle Caboodle” cart to help children feel better about treatment caused hair loss and more.

That hair loss issue is at the heart of the Buzz Off.

Ashley says she was inspired by going through pictures of her son in the hospital the day they shaved his head after patches of hair fell out. That day was when she realized that anyone looking at him would see a cancer patient. Thinking about the stares that children without hair and eyebrows attract, she wanted to find a way to turn that terrible moment into something good.

She decided to ask people to shave their heads so kids would feel less alone. As the event site explains:

Kids with cancer don’t just feel sick. They feel different from everyone else. By shaving your head, in less than five minutes you can show them they are not alone and that others really do care! All that stands between you and a life-changing experience is a head of hair!

The first Buzz Off was in 2010 at the Longwood Galleria with just 21 participants. But she knew, based on the raw emotions of the day, it was going to be big. The next year it moved to Gillette where it grew. Within a couple of years, it was up to 1,000 participants. Since then, registered participants have leveled out at about 700 per year. But the surrounding hoopla with friends in families cheering on brings in thousands of people.

Buzz Buddy (from Facebook)Ashley tells me that her connection to One Mission has moved far beyond her own family’s trauma so many years ago. Over the years, she has met so many children and families that she now thinks of as her people. (You can see an example of one of the charity’s buddies by clicking on the thumbnail right.)

She has seen the same thing happen to others at the Buzz Off. People who come in as strangers walk away with a connection to each other and the cause that lasts for years. She welcomes the community to be part of that.

Gronk at a past Buzz OffAshley encourages people to come on out on Sunday even if you don’t plan to buzz. You can cheer others on and enjoy festivities, like musical performances, including Southborough’s Julia Howard. (You might even bump into their fundraising ambassador, Rob Gronkowski.)

You can donate to support a buzzee here or donate directly to the cause here. If you are interested in becoming a buzzee, you can register here, but you may first want to check out the details for that commitment through their FAQ here.

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