‘Buzz Off’ to support pediatric cancer patients

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By Bonnie Adams Government Reporter
Anthony Karpouzis is growing his hair as long as possible before he shaves it all off to help kids with cancer. PHOTO/BONNIEADAMS

As the owner of the Little Gym of Westboro, Anthony Karpouzis's goal is to make kids happy and healthy. At the business, which he runs with his wife, Kellie, he makes sure his young clients have fun while they also learn how to safely participate in things such as gymnastics and dance, among other activities. But that's not only the way Karpouzis supports kids. He's also willing to give up the hair on his head as well.

On June 5, Karpouzis and Andrew St. George, the husband of his office manager, Gloria, will be getting their heads shaved as participants in the One Mission “Buzz Off” to be held at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. The event is organized by close friends of the Karpouzis, Southborough residents Ashley and Ari Haseotes, as a way to help raise funds for the families of pediatric cancer patients.

The cause is very dear to the Haseotes's hearts. Their son Nicholas was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia when he was 7 months old.

Although Nicholas, who is almost 5 years old now, is well on the road to a complete recovery, his mother has vowed not to forget those families still immersed in their own battles.

“Even before Nicholas was diagnosed with leukemia, children with cancer were a part of my heart,” Ashley said. “I can remember feeling so sad for the parents whose children had cancer. I had no idea that only two months after I had my first fund-raiser…I would be joining the cancer club.”

She formed the nonprofit organization “One Mission” specifically as a way to help families of pediatric cancer patients in the greater New England area. Monies raised from events help families who have a child at Children's Hospital in Boston with things such as free parking passes, food vouchers and special holiday meals for patients and their families.

The idea of holding a Buzz Off, came to her, Ashley said, as she was brainstorming fundraising ideas last year.

“I happened to glance at the picture of Nicholas the day we shaved off his hair while he was in treatment at Children's Hospital,” she said. “I reflected upon that day and remembered how difficult it was for my husband and me to see Nicholas bald. For us, it was yet another reality check that indeed our son had cancer.

“The Buzz-Off is an event that raises money, but it also says to the children and their families that we care. The “Buzzees” are making a sacrifice by shaving off their hair. This sacrifice speaks volumes to the children, and it means so much to the parents,” she added.

So far for this year's event, there are 40 participants signed up. Last year's inaugural event raised $34,000. Ashley said she is optimistic about raising $50,000 this year.

Karpouzis noted that the families who attend programs at his gym have been very supportive of his involvement in the Buzz Off. They are not the only ones, he added.

“I originally said that I wasn's going to let my hair grow, but the ladies in my house [daughters Zoe and Olivia] rule, so no haircuts until June 5 – I can only imagine how long my hair will be by then,” he said.

But that really is not a concern for this kindhearted man. After all, he knows there will be plenty of time for his hair to grow back. But helping kids with cancer? That's something that can's wait.

More information about the Buzz Off and One Mission can be found at www.onemission.org.