The friends and family of a Yellowknife man recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer buzzed up funds at Shave for the Brave on Saturday evening.

Dylan Short/NNSL photo
Shawnette, left, and James McNeil, right, were the first to chop their locks at the ‘Shave for the Brave’ event this past weekend.
Dylan Short/NNSL photo

Close to 100 people filled the Raven Pub to watch John Smith’s six children and four family friends shave their heads in order to support the man that they call “their rock.”

“Our family has had so much support coming all the way from Newfoundland and all the way to Yellowknife, it’s amazing,” said Barbara Bell, John’s daughter.

“It’s amazing, we have so many friends, so much support, Yellowknife is an awesome place,” added John’s wife, Linda Smith.

Bell says that when the family first heard the news they knew that they wanted to support their father as much as they could but that they weren’t sure, at first, of how do that. That was when they decided to use their father’s most defining trait to their benefit.

“My father had the most amazing gray hair and he carried a fine tooth comb in his back pocket and he was always combing his beautiful gray hair,” said Bell. “Him losing his hair is pretty much where the idea came from, one for all and all for one.”

As of Sunday afternoon, the family had raised $3,800 for the Canadian Cancer Society.

On top of the funds raised through the event, the family had been selling hot dogs and roses at the pub each weekend, raising close to an additional $7,000 in addition to raising funds for the society, Those additional funds will go towards helping John with any medical expenses he faces not covered through insurance.

In addition to giving new haircuts, The Raven also hosted a silent auction selling off a number of gifts that were donated by local businesses and artists. The grand total raised through all of the different events totaled $14,000.

On top of raising funds, Bell said the family really wanted to raise awareness not only around esophageal cancer, which can affect both the upper and lower sections of the esophagus, but to raise awareness about the needs of all cancer patients.

“The biggest thing that I want to come out of this is that, people going through cancer, they need support,” said Bell. “They need friends, they need family to reach out, touch base, just show support, surround yourself with good people.”

Bell says that after the fund raising is finished, their family won’t change their approach to how they continue to fight John’s battle with cancer.

“Nothing really changes with us, every day that we have is a big day. We live everyday with so much love and so much hope, that will never change,” said Bell.

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