Losing their hair

Volunteers at Rock Bridge High School bare their scalps for AIDS relief
Sunday, October 17, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:09 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

In the midst of the energy and spirit of Rock Bridge High School’s homecoming assembly, Principal Bruce Brotzman and 16 teachers and students lost their hair.

The volunteers had pledged to shave or dye their hair based on how much money the Global Issues Club raised for AIDS relief and research. Kept backstage, those who volunteered for new dos were revealed at the end of the assembly.

The Global Issues Club, with sponsor Matt Cone, raised more than $7,800, exceeding its goal of $5,000. The club and Rock Bridge community were excited about the amount of money it brought in.

“We feel euphoric; we are so happy,” Cone said.

He said many students told him they got goose bumps or cried when the total was announced at the assembly.

Melodi Sampson, a member of the club, said the event was about more than shaving or dying hair, but it was a way to get people to recognize the AIDS crisis.

“This is just the beginning of our campaign against AIDS,” Sampson said.

At the assembly, Morgan Matfiga, who is from Zimbabwe, spoke briefly, thanking Rock Bridge students and the Global Issues Club.

Matfiga shared with students that he lost two sisters, a cousin and several high school friends to AIDS.

“This is a global village we live in,” he said. “What affects Africa affects all of us.”

Student Larrecia Rhoden said she usually doesn’t donate money but decided to this time.

“I think it’s going to something that really counts,” she said. “AIDS is a big deal — and there’s no cure.”

Cone said club members showed they really care about the issue, which encouraged others to donate.

“If all schools did that, think of how much money we would have,” student Tanisha Lee said.

The club will donate $3,000 to the Global Fund, an organization working to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and $3,000 to Mothers to Mothers to Be, an organization that helps mothers prevent passing AIDS to their children. The club will keep the additional money to plan other events to raise awareness about the issue.

Cone said the club members have looked at other schools, but haven’t found another school at this level of fund-raising. He said community members told him they have never seen anything like this before.

“We did this to start a conversation,” Cone said.

The club plans to pay for all Rock Bridge students to call the president on Dec. 1, Global Aids Day, to encourage him to make AIDS issues a high priority.

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