One Cromwell College pupil has shaved his long locks of hair off — to give back to the people who have helped him in his health journey.
Year 8 pupil Octavier Neal, 13, buzzed off his impressive head of hair on Wednesday last week to raise funds for Dunedin Hospital’s Child’s Paediatric Ward and Children’s Haematology Oncology Centre (Choc) at Christchurch Hospital.
Octavier had spent time in Choc as a young child and more recently has spent time in Dunedin Hospital.
To date, Octavier has raised over $700 for Choc and Dunedin Hospital.
He had chosen to fundraise ‘‘to give back to people that have helped me’’.
Illness and cancer could affect anyone at any time, he said.
Octavier’s mum, Vicky, said he was a bit nervous the night before and so she had decided to shave her head as well in solidarity.
‘‘It’s hair, it grows back,’’ she said.
She was extremely proud of Octavier’s commitment to giving back to those who have helped him. ‘‘It just shows the empathy he has for everybody going through hard times,’’ she said. Octavier had shaved his head for a fundraiser for the first time three years ago and had been growing his hair out in preparation for this shave for about two and a-half years.
In March 2022, Octavier was diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, a neurological disorder which gradually weakens the arms and legs.
As a result, the family have spent a lot of time in Dunedin Hospital.
‘‘Some of the resources in the play area and the learning area were lacking. So [Octavier] decided he needed to do a fundraiser,’’ Mrs Neal said.
‘‘He was able to walk and run and do everything everyone else was able to do, including playing rugby, which he loves.
‘‘All of a sudden he couldn’t, and some of those friends just pulled away and couldn’t understand why he couldn’t do anything and felt like they were obviously missing out.’’
Cromwell Youth Trust had been chosen as the location of the fundraiser because of the support they had shown Octavier after his diagnosis, she said.
‘‘[Cromwell Youth Trust have] been really supportive and really great.’’
The family have set up a Givealittle page to continue to raise funds for the two wards.