MURFREESBORO — After 12-year-old Jason Benson's mother, Sue Benson, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in August last year, he decided to do something drastic.
"He came to me in September and said he wanted to do Bald in the Boro event and shave his head. I was completely flabbergasted by that because he's never cut the back of his hair. And for him to come to me and say that he was going to shave his head bald, that was a big thing for him," said Sue Benson, who received results Friday that her biopsy was clear of cancer.
At Bald in the Boro on Friday at Lanes, Trains and Automobiles, Jason Benson will have his 21-inch-long hair chopped off and donated to Locks of Love, which uses human hair to make wigs for disadvantaged children who have medical hair loss.
"There's kids with no hair and I want to give it to them," Jason said.
Since making a decision to shave his head, Jason also has been raising funds to donate to Saint Baldrick's Foundation, which benefits from Bald in the Boro. Saint Baldrick's raises money to fund pediatric cancer research.
So far, Jason said he's raised $2,208, nearly $800 shy of his $3,000 goal. He's done all his own fundraising, giving speeches in Sunday school classes and to family and friends.
He said he was inspired by his 4-H leader, Michael Shirley, who shaved his head at last year's Bald in the Boro.
But Jason's connection to cancer, and even childhood cancer, goes further back than recent years.
"He is a cancer survivor," Sue recalled. "He was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was 8 months old and we were done (with his cancer) in his third year."
Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial cancer in childhood and the most common cancer in infancy. The cancerous tumor most frequently originates in one of the adrenal glands but can also develop in nerve tissues.
Jason's long hair is a result of never cutting it since he grew it back after his battle with cancer. His mother said he had wanted to do something special with the long hair when he decided to cut it. But she had no idea he'd ever go completely bald.
"God allowed me to survive cancer and I wanted to help other people," Jason said. "It's important to me because (cancer) affects other people's lives and families. Cancer is sad; it changes lives."