Teacher raffles off beard for student with cancer

Adelaide Taylor

Michael Holliday, a teacher at the ⅘ Academy, let students shave his beard as a fundraiser for Adam Smith, a fourth grader who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma.

A raffle on Thursday morning decided who would participate. Each ticket cost only a dollar, and as of Monday, Dec. 18, 2,400 had been sold. 

“It’s so great in the face of such a horrible situation that we come together as a community,” Holliday said. “That’s awesome.”

Holliday was inspired by a memory of a teacher in high school.

“He came to school with half his beard shaved off and it was just wild, and we were just laughing and I was just thinking that it’s so much fun to publicly humiliate a teacher when you’re a kid.”

Holliday said Smith’s situation resonated with many people at F.AVE, including himself. He describes Smith as a “bright, happy kid.”

A GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/mrsneefsupport) made for Smith raised $10,209 in one month.

“Even though he wasn’t in my class, this is all of our community, and I know everybody in the building when it was told to us, felt upset, whether he’s in your class or not,” Holliday said.

Rachel Waldrop, Smith’s teacher, said he is an outgoing student with a great sense of humor and liked by many of his classmates.

“I was devastated when I found out he was sick. It hit me pretty hard because it was unexpected and he is so young,” Waldrop said.

However, Waldrop’s class and Holliday aim to stay cheerful by brainstorming ways to support their classmate and participating in events like the raffle.

“I just thought it would be goofy and a fun way to bring attention, and more importantly money, to this cause, without it being too heavy. Keeping it a little light,” Holliday said.

On Monday, he felt excited and ready.

“I’ll meet with those kids and I’ll be like, don’t be afraid, if you draw some blood we’ll be fine, don’t be scared, just mess it up. You wanna just shave the middle out, I don’t even care. And I’ll walk around like that for the rest of the day.”

Holliday wants to do whatever he can to help Smith, from giving a financial contribution to letting students style his locks.

“It’s not about me, or the beard, at the end of the day. It’s about our student, our friend.”