Shaved head show of love

UNITED STANCE: Kaden Penman and Gino Carroll enjoy the sun on Saturday at Auckland’s Starship Hospital, where 10-year-old Gino is being treated for a brain tumour.
UNITED STANCE: Kaden Penman and Gino Carroll enjoy the sun on Saturday at Auckland’s Starship Hospital, where 10-year-old Gino is being treated for a brain tumour.

By the end of last week, a youngster's shaved head had raised over $1300 in support of a sick friend.

Kaden Penman, 7, a former pupil at Hokowhitu School, and now at Northcote Primary in Auckland, shaved off his hair as a mark of respect and empathy for Bunnythorpe boy Gino Carroll.

In September, 10-year-old Gino was hospitalised at Starship in Auckland with what turned out to be an inoperable brain tumour. It pressed on the optic nerve and created problems with Gino's sight, among other issues, but doctors found it had grown too big to operate on.

Understandably, this diagnosis had a profound effect on the wider family, of which Kaden is a member. Kaden's mother, Rachael, says the two boys are cousins and good friends, and her son really wanted to help in some way.

Settling on a head-shave, Kaden's target had been $750. Gino's parents, Kevin and Erina, both deaf, are faced with extra costs caused by taking time off work, as well as the travel involved to be with their boy in Auckland. The head shave has so far exceeded Kaden's expectation by almost double.

His mother gave him some direction about how he should proceed, and helped set up a fundraising account through Westpac.

She then elicited the help of actress and friend Ingrid Park (Shortland Street, Burying Brian, Go Girls) as part of the fundraising team, and convinced former Palmerston North radio personality Robert Scott, now co-host of The Two Robbies Breakfast Show on Auckland's The Breeze, to compere for the cut.

"There's just been so much support for the family's plight and for Gino, including anonymous donations," Rachael says.

Courtesy of Bob the Barber, well-known in Northcote and Birkenhead for his cuts, the shave took place last week in the Northcote School assembly hall with Kaden's school mates from years 3-4 in attendance.

Kaden's adoptive father and Gino's uncle, Reihana Haronga, says Kaden's headshave campaign, which was posted on Facebook, inspired any number of people to contribute, but it had positive psychological spin-offs for Gino too.

The St Joseph's School in Feilding pupil is undergoing 24 weeks of extensive chemotherapy treatment to try and shrink the tumour so it can hopefully be dealt with by radiotherapy.

Reihana says Gino, into his second round of of chemo, was really struggling with how he looked.

"When Kaden turned up at the hospital with a shaved head, Gino decided to let himself be photographed. It has inspired Gino to allow people to see him in this condition."

Reihana says there is going to be a concert fundraiser in Feilding's Civic Centre on December 8 featuring band Smokey Feel, the IPC kodama drum team, Feilding Ukuleles, St Joseph's School kapa haka, and a number of other Manawatu talents.

Earlier this month 19-year-old Sam Mutch from Palmerston North set himself a target of raising $5000 in five days to help pay the family's bills and other costs. Sam secured donated goods from stores like Dick Smith, Noel Leemings, Storage Box and Mitre 10 to raffle off, and got permission to fundraise at the Manawatu Turbos' final home game.

He reported that the response had been amazing. Thanks to the unstinting generosity of locals, Sam posted $8000.

Gino's grandmother Gloria Carroll wrote a letter, published in Saturday's Manawatu Standard, thanking everyone for their contributions and best wishes, saying that "the family has been overwhelmed by their generosity".

The weekend marked two significant dates for the Carrolls. It was Kevin and Erina's 21st wedding anniversary and Kevin's birthday.

Manawatu Standard