RIVERDALE -- When Averi Thompson's dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year ago, the community held a fundraiser to help the family.
Since then, Averi has wanted to "pay it forward" and help others facing similar challenges. So recently she and her mother, Christel, started selling homemade goods in the parking lot of Averi's school.
"Averi really wanted to help other families in our school who might need some help pulling through a difficult time," Christel said. "When we had our fundraiser it really helped us focus on something happy during the hard times. So we talked about some things we could do. We ended up selling hundreds of bags of popcorn, cotton candy, cookies and taffy."
Christel said the goal was to raise $1,000; and, if they met that goal, a teacher at the school would agree to have his head shaved, while another teacher would have a pie thrown in her face during an assembly.
However, when Averi and Christel raised more money than they had ever imagined, the resulting assembly got bigger and better as well.
"We raised over $2,000, so my dad, our coach and a teacher said they would get their heads shaved," Averi said. "And two of the teachers said they would have pies thrown in their faces."
During the assembly, Rich Thompson, along with fifth-grade teacher Brent Petersen and athletic coach Jordan Hassell, had their heads shaved by some of the students, while teachers Gloria Rivera and Barb Robbins each had a pie thrown in their faces.
"I haven't seen my hair yet but my wife says I still look OK," said Hassell, who had a full head of hair shaved off by student Gabrielle Haner. "It's all good though. It's a spring fresh feeling."
Petersen said he didn't want to look at his shaved head anytime soon.
"I've had it short but never this short," he said while laughing. "When she swiped the side of my head I knew I had to go all the way. I just hope it grows back."
Thompson said he has lost his hair once already to chemotherapy treatments, but it took a very long time just to grow it back an inch or so.
"It's worth it to shave it off again because it's for such a great cause," he said. "I'm so proud of Averi and Christel and all of their hard work and desire to pay it forward to others. It really means a lot."
Christel said she and Averi hope the families will take the money raised and put it toward something they need or want.
"They may not even need the money, but we want them to know we love them and care about them. They can use it for a medical bill or even to help out with a family vacation. When you are faced with something like this you just feel the walls around you caving in. You feel helpless, but people can really change your experience through the love and kindness they show and we wanted to do the same," Christel said.
The Thompsons chose not to identify the families that will receive the money.