Malcolm Thompson: Seventh Grade Inspiration

Malcolm Thompson is not afraid of losing his hair young. This seventh grader has been an advocate of cancer research for many years and this year pledged to shave his head if he and his family would succeed in raising $5,000 for leukemia research. With $7,850 raised, Thompson now sports a shaved head. “[Cancer is] just a sad, sad disease and it can strike anyone. It’s not like other diseases where it has a direct cause; it just happens, and that’s the worst,” said Thompson.

When asked about how he had come up with such an inspiring project, Thompson explained that he had been going to rallies and fundraising marches for four years. His involvement began when his mother’s close friend, Dawn Urso, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1995, asked the Thompson family to join her at a Philadelphia walk in 2008. For two years, Urso and the Thompsons walked and advocated for people fighting against cancer. Sadly, Urso lost her battle with lymphoma on May 8, 2010, and now the Thompsons walk in her memory.

Over the last two years, Thompson has been raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. Last year, Thompson and his parents raised about $4,900; this year, they decided to push their goal higher. The Thompsons have been raising money for cancer research for a while, but this year brought Thompson’s “first shaved head,” he said with a laugh.

The idea for this year’s project was inspired by a boy that Thompson met at a cancer march several years ago. This boy had pledged to shave his head if he raised a certain amount of money for leukemia, and Thompson asked himself, “Why can’t I do that?” Thompson feels that shaving his head signifies that this awful disease can strike anybody; by sporting a bald head, he is showing his support and solidarity for the people who suffer through cancer (and the associated hair loss from chemotherapy). Thompson is enjoying his newly shaved head. “It feels colder. And people are always touching it,” Thompson commented.
When explaining his fundraising tactics, Thompson described them as informal, but very effective: “I emailed people I knew, posted [my pledge] on my Facebook [profile], passed out slips for the website and for my [cause], and my parents reached out to their friends.”

This year, the Thompsons managed to raise $7,850, far more than their initial goal of $5000. Thompson said his parents were the main actors: “They got much more money than I did. I kind of just shaved my head.” When asked if he was planning to do future projects similar to this one, Thompson mused: “Yeah, probably. We’ll be collecting donations for a couple more weeks because we’re still getting them.”

Next year’s goal? Thompson says that he and his family are thinking about pushing it to 10,000 dollars, because this year they raised nearly 8,000 and are still receiving donations. The Hunter community was very supportive of Thompson’s inspiring project. “People would stop me in the halls and say ‘Hey, it’s great what you’re doing’ and sometimes people who I didn’t even know would stop me and just donate. It was great,” he said. As to first impressions of Hunter, Thompson only has positive things to say: “It’s awesome! I like it a lot.”
When he’s not shaving his head for cancer and raising money for research, Thompson enjoys most sports, especially baseball, and likes playing video games. Among his Hunter classes, Thompson especially likes communications and theater class, because of the activities and the difference in structure compared to other courses. The native New Yorker spends time with his friends, plays baseball, and does mostly, as he puts it, “normal kid stuff.” But Thompson isn’t just a regular kid: he has accomplished an impressive goal through his activism. The bald young Thompson serves as a role model for Hunter’s commitment to community service and activism.

Anna Maheu
Age 13, Grade 8
Hunter College High School
Gold Key

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