Student Standouts: 10.6.21
Aidan Dougan of Ladue Horton Watkins High School
You may not put much thought into your next haircut, but for Aidan Dougan, it’s always an opportunity to give back. For years, the Ladue Horton Watkins High School senior has been shaving his head and donating his locks in support of cancer patients. This year, in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, he decided to take it a step further, creating a special fundraising event at his school.
What is your personal connection to pediatric cancer?
My sister Ari was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was 3, and she battled it for 11 years. In her honor, my mom created Spread Ari’s Light, a nonprofit that helps provide dance therapy to pediatric cancer patients.
When did you first decide to shave your head to honor Ari and other cancer patients?
I started when I was around 7 years old at a St. Baldrick’s event. The organization is dedicated to raising awareness and funds specifically for pediatric cancer. I didn’t originally donate my hair, but I continued to shave my head every couple years to raise awareness. When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I decided to start donating it as well. I don’t mind growing my hair out and having it long for a while. When it’s long enough to donate, I’m ready to be done with it, and then, I don’t mind being bald for a good cause.
What motivated you to create a fundraiser around shaving your head this time?
It was actually thanks to a teacher, Mr. Horn. He has donated to and participated in events for Spread Ari’s Light in the past, like our annual Challah Bake that will be held Nov. 4. He asked if anything was happening, and I mentioned that it was about time for me to shave my head again. I realized September would be the perfect time for a fundraiser since it’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. At school, there are always events for things like breast cancer but never pediatric cancer, despite the impact it has on students.
How was it to have the support of your school and classmates?
It was great. A few students and teachers agreed to shave their heads with me, and we raised more than $3,000. When I first asked, people were hesitant about parting with their hair, but they realized it was for a good cause. Other students and teachers came out to support those of us who were shaving our heads. It was a great event and a lot of fun.
What are you looking forward to for your senior year?
Definitely being back in person. I’m looking forward to being able to go to clubs after school and talking with my teachers face-to-face to get help with problems. I didn’t like virtual school. I enjoyed being able to be at home, but mentally and socially, I appreciate that we can be back on campus together.