Reporting Mark Rosen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Some of those students who turn out to greet President Bill Clinton at the University of Minnesota on Tuesday may have bald heads.
More than 60 football players, staffers and one volleyball player shaved their heads Monday afternoon. They did it to show support for fellow teammate Connor Cosrove, who’s battling leukemia. They also raised thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer research.
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“It’s incredible. I look around and there’s so much build up,” said Cosgrove, wide receiver for the Gophers. “It’s exactly how I imagined it, it’s perfect.”
Cosgrove has acute lymphoblastic leukemia and was also diagnosed with avascular necrosis. Essentially, the treatments have killed the bone in his knees, hips and shoulders. He says the only exercise he’ll be able to do for the rest of his life is either swimming or bicycling.
“I always had this hope that I would play again someday, and unfortunately another bump in the road,” said Cosgrove. “From day one, losing this battle was never an option.”
Cosgrove says he got the idea to have the team shave their heads from a nurse while he was getting chemo therapy.
“She told me about St. Baldrick’s and what they do, and she was going to be part of their event. She was like, ‘Hey – maybe you would like the football team to get involved,’” said Cosgrove.
He says it started small with a few people, and before he knew it he had a list with 60-plus names on it.
One of the names on the list belongs to Mia Tabberson, a senior and volleyball player.
“We’re really excited. It’s for such a great cause,” said Tabberson before the cut. “We raised a ton of money thanks to the Gopher community and Minneapolis community who supported us.”
With the help of U of M staffer Anissa Lightner, who also cut her hair, Tabberson managed to raise almost $11,000.
“It’s amazing,” said Deb Wynia, with St. Baldrick’s Foundation. “The support they’ve shown for their teammate.”
“I have a love-hate relationship with my hair,” Tabberson said before her haircut. She said she’s looking forward to not brushing, shampooing and coloring it.
After the cut she felt relieved.
“It feels great. It’s soft, fuzzy, healthy and brand new,” said Tabberson. “We’ll see what it looks like as it grows out.”
Linebacker Mike Rallis, who hasn’t cut his hair in four years, says Connor’s positive attitude made it an easy decision to participate.
“I think I’ve been in a position where my hair has gained some attention through the media and some articles,” said Rallis. “I think it’s gained enough attention that I can do something good with it.”
Connor’s hoping the publicity generated by the generosity of teammates and fellow athletes will produce a very positive response from the public.
“When I see those beautiful little girls who are bald, I feel that the least I can do is shave my hair to show the support and show them that they are not alone,” Connor said.
Cosrove says his last chemo therapy treatment will be on January 13, 2014.
For more information on how to donate to the cause, click here.