Madera students donate hair in honor of classmate battling leukemia

MADERA, Calif.

Samantha Baez, 11, received a rock star's welcome back to Parkwood Elementary School in Madera. The school president has been out of class for the past five months battling leukemia.

"It's very emotional for me to see that there are a lot of selfless kids out here that are willing to go far and beyond for a little girl," said Valarie Baez, Samantha's mother.

The welcome rally quickly turned to action, as students and staff stepped up to show their support for Sam by cutting their hair and donating to Locks of Love.

"Samantha's my best friend and I just felt like doing it," one student said.

Cut by cut, each student got to see how they could make an impact with the hair on their head. Student Emma-Lee Torres decided to shave her head to show support.

"Because I want to support the children that have cancer," said Torres.

Many were emotional as one by one students and staff donated.

"It was heartbreaking for us to have one of our students diagnosed, but to see her and how she has bounced back and the strength and courage that she has to fight it; she's really an inspiration to everyone," said teacher Stacie Trasoras.

And her family says they too have been inspired.

"When my daughter was first diagnosed, the first thing that came to mind was wow I'm going to be alone. How am I going to face this challenge?" said Valarie Baez. "You know what? I was 100 percent wrong. I've had my community, our church and our school all behind us."

If you would like to help, a car wash is planned for Saturday at Parkwood Elementary School to raise money for the Baez family to pay medical expenses. It goes from 9 a.m. to noon.

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