Sofia’s shave

“We knew Sofia had an impact on the kids at school, but we had no idea it was so huge. Her shave event started out really small, but it just kept growing, with more and more kids shaving their heads”—Sofia’s mother Shelly Bhayana.

Sofia is just one of those kids other kids gravitate to. It’s no wonder. She’s loving and kind and always happy. At age six, she already makes a point of helping others, visiting other people going through cancer and baking cookies for her friends.

Sofia is also a cancer survivor, diagnosed with medullablastoma in May 2014—just before her fifth birthday. She endured repeated rounds of chemotherapy, followed by three stem cell transplants and finally proton therapy.

Sofia Heart
Sofia takes in all the love and support at Briar Hill School’s shave fundraising event, which raised over $17,000 for Kids Cancer Care programs.

But the very treatments that saved Sofia’s life, also forever changed her life. Suffering from treatment-related brain injury, Sofia now requires a walker for mobility, hearing aids and has speech impairment.

“After her surgery, Sofia was initially totally paralyzed,” says mom. “It was terrifying. She couldn’t talk, move or see. She was completely mute and blind. She couldn’t hug us for three months. This was the girl who was doing summersaults and jumping on the trampoline the week before her diagnosis.”

Although Sofia may never be fully independent again, she never gives up. She fights every day to get better. With intense therapy (up to three hours a day) Sofia has regained the ability to walk with a walker, talk with friends and family, feed herself and write again.

Despite her struggles, Sofia rarely complains. Little things bother her like why she can’t run or pull on her socks by herself like her brother or sister can. As much as she may want to, Sofia can’t do these things because she has balance issues related to the treatments she received.

But, for the most part, Sofia is a bright and cheerful child. An absolute joy to be around.

“When I drop her off at school in the morning, all the little girls line up to hug her,” says Mom. “It’s so sweet. The kids in her class have been so welcoming and supportive.”

Sofia drew a similar line of support last May, when students and family lined up to shave or decorate their lid for a kid to raise funds and awareness for Kids Cancer Care.

Sofia Skiing
Thanks to our generous donors, Sofia was able to hit the slopes last winter with the rest of her family during our Family Ski Day. Kids Cancer Care’s first child to try adaptive skiing, Sofia loved it so much, she stayed out on the slopes for over two hours! Go Sofia!

Sofia’s parents, Shelly Bhayana and Naushad Hirani, her little sister Sonya and big brother Shaan cut or shaved off their hair. It was Sonya’s first hair cut and she donated 14 inches of hair to Angel Hair for Kids. Uncles, cousins and grandparents too joined in on the fun and shaved their lids. The students at Briar Hill School also stepped up and shaved their heads.

Sofia’s family has enjoyed Kids Cancer Care Family Camps and Family Ski Day and the kids have enjoyed our summer camp programs, so when the family decided to plan a cancer fundraiser, Kids Cancer Care was an obvious choice.

What they didn’t know right away was how they would raise funds. They considered various options, but when Sofia said, “Mommy, I’m not going to have any hair, but I did have cancer and I’m okay now, so maybe we should do a shave event,” she hit the bull’s eye!

“Sofia’s hair may never grow again because the chemo and radiation damaged all the hair follicles,” says Shelly, “but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t be part of a shave event in her name.”

The Hirani family couldn’t have been more right. Together, Sofia’s family and friends at school raised over $17,000 for Kids Cancer Care. Sofia brought in $9,105, making her one of our top shave fundraisers this year. Congratulations Sofia!

Thank you Sofia, for inspiring so much love and generosity in others.

Thank you to all the participants and donors involved in the Briar Hill School Shave Your Lid or Decorate Your Lid for a Kid event. The money you raised is enough to send 11 kids affected by cancer to summer camp next year.