Nine-Year-Old Bonnie Braves the Shave for Cancer

5 Jun 2024

When her lifelong friend Sienna was diagnosed with blood cancer, nine-year-old Bonnie from Green Point, NSW wanted to have her very own ‘Shave head for cancer’ moment and show Sienna just how brave she is.

As the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian children, blood cancer has a big impact on students and schools across the country. It keeps children stuck in hospital, and away from friends, family and their education.  

This was the reality for ten-year-old Sienna when she was diagnosed with leukaemia (leukemia) in August 2023 after a routine appointment. The diagnosis changed the lives of her and her family forever. When word spread to lifelong friend Bonnie, she knew she had to do something to support her.

“I have known Sienna since I was a baby,” Bonnie says. “When we heard she was sick, I wanted to do something to help her get better."  

“She seemed so brave, and I just couldn’t imagine how hard it would be. Being away from her family and her dog. Not going to school to see friends, and having her life turned upside down.” 

Bonnie knew she had a choice a make, and realised this was a luxury that Sienna simply didn’t have.

“I asked Mum and Dad why Sienna was wearing a beanie. They explained it was because her treatment made her hair fall out. It was either go bald or die. She didn’t have a choice. I felt so sorry for her. Why did someone my age have to go through this?” 

But what really inspired Bonnie to Shave for cancer was Sienna’s attitude.

“Sienna didn’t look sad,” Bonnie says. “She was so happy and positive. I was really inspired by her and wanted her to know that I really looked up to her. I wanted to shave my hair off to show her how amazingly brave she is and that she’s not alone.” 
From the day she decided to take part all the way to her Shave, Bonnie pulled out all the stops to raise funds.

Shortly after, Bonnie saw a World’s Greatest Shave ad on TV, and it seemed like fate.

Bonnie made the most of her big day, braving the Shave in front of her school.

“One day while watching TV an ad came on and it was for the World’s Greatest Shave. I couldn’t believe it. You could shave your hair and raise money to help people get better, and maybe even stop blood cancer all together! My mum called up, and the next day signed me up to do it.” 

Bonnie set a modest initial goal of $1,000. But nobody could have predicted what came next.

“The response was huge,” says Bonnie. “So many friends got behind me and I raised lots of money over the first month. My goal was to raise $1000 and before I knew it, I was up to $9,000!” 

And from there, Bonnie took her fundraising efforts even further. She rallied various local businesses, members of the community, and her school who all got behind the cause.

“It was amazing. So many people were helping me and saying I was brave, but I wasn’t brave. Sienna is the brave one. I’m just cheering her on.” 

My school headmaster asked families in the newsletter if they could sponsor me. He then sent out a message to say if I reached $15,000, he would also shave his hair off.” 

It seems like school communities love seeing principals Shave their head, as her fundraising hit the $15,000 mark shortly after the message went out. New sponsors and messages of support kept flooding in, and within two more months she reached an incredible $20,000 raised for the Leukaemia Foundation.  

During World’s Greatest Shave month which occurred in March this year, Bonnie’s big day arrived and she was set to brave the Shave in front of her entire school.  

“It was definitely nerve-racking,” Bonnie recalls. “I felt like I was about to throw up. But I just thought of how scary it would be for Sienna getting her chemotherapy. And my friends held me and cheered me on. The whole school watched and cheered so loud.” 

Students at Avoca Beach Public School threw their support behind Bonnie on her big day.
Facetiming Sienna during her Shave event was a moment Bonnie will never forget.

After her Shave, Bonnie got a surprise from a very special someone. And it was a moment that she'll never forget.  

“Sienna's mum came and brought me flowers. She was so grateful. And she got Sienna on FaceTime and when I saw her smiling face, I just felt so happy and knew that it was cheering her up.” 

To cap off an already perfect day, Bonnie and her ever-growing entourage headed down to the beach to Shave a few more heads, and her fundraising tally kept growing.  

“Lots of people donated money to us at the beach, and everyone cheered. The weather was amazing. Afterwards we all went for a swim in the ocean. It was such a special night.” 

For Australians considering signing up for the World’s Greatest Shave, Bonnie’s message is clear.

“I say go for it! It has been such a great experience and from doing this I think I have shown people that it’s ok to be different.”

“I have days where I miss styling my hair as it’s something I like to do but I know it will grow back. I had a choice. Sienna didn’t. It was one of the best days ever.” 

Bonnie’s ’encore’ Shave event on the beach was the perfect way to cap off the day.

Bonnie’s final fundraising tally?

An incredible $25,117, which is enough to fund over ten months of accommodation for patients like Sienna and their families who have to relocate for life-saving treatment. It also has her placed as the 7th highest individual fundraiser in the country, at the age of just nine.

“I’m just so happy and grateful to everyone who cheered me on and donated. The community were so kind and generous. People sponsored me that I didn’t even know, and I’m still receiving sponsors even now. It’s hard to believe I’ve raised over $25,000.” 

“Sienna has just been in hospital for more treatment. Her hair was growing back, but then she had to get chemo again and it has fallen out again. I just can’t wait for her to get better and not have to go through any more treatment.” 


If you would like to learn more about the Leukaemia Foundation and our work, connect with a blood cancer support professional, or want some school fundraising ideas, you can visit our website

While World’s Greatest Shave month has come and gone for another year, with 53 Australians still being diagnosed every day, registrations remain open all year round. So it’s not too late to be brave and Shave.  

Join legendary Australians like Bonnie and sign up to the World’s Greatest Shave to help fund critical blood cancer support services such as accommodation, transport, and financial assistance. 

SIGN UP HERE
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5 Jun 2024
2024

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