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GOING TO THE MAT FOR A FRIEND

A teammate is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, so Banks High School wrestlers bare their heads in support
by: Chase Allgood, Banks High School student Trask Bowden checks his clean-shaven head while Spencer Sherrill holds a mirror for him during a show of solidarity last Friday for wrestler Mitch Engeseth, who has been diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma.

When teachers Jacob Pence and Gabe Pagano first came up with the idea to shave their students' heads as a fund-raiser for Banks junior Mitch Engeseth's battle with cancer, they thought there would be maybe a dozen wary volunteers.

But as students flooded out of the stands of the Banks High School gym on Friday with five-dollar bills jammed in their hands, Pence and Pagano realized they had drastically underestimated the community's desire to rally around one of its own.

'When we came up with the idea of shaving kids' heads to support Mitch and his family, we thought maybe 10 to 15 kids would do it,' said Pence, who, along with Pagano, was a driving force behind Friday's 'Buzzcut Benefit.'

The event raised money for Engeseth, who was diagnosed earlier this year with Burkitt's Lymphoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

The original plan was simple: for a $5 donation, an Engeseth family member would shave your head.

'We initially planned a short assembly for Wednesday,' Pagano said. 'It's a good thing we extended it to Friday, because it just kept growing and growing. All of a sudden it was spiraling out of control.'

What transpired went beyond both teachers' wildest imaginations.

All week long donations flooded in from students, teachers and community members. Several teachers stepped up and volunteered to shave their heads if the school could raise a certain amount of money.

For $200, Banks assistant principal Jim Smith said he'd shave his dome. For $1,000, instructional assistant Debbie Mott said she'd get clipped. By the end of Friday's assembly, both teachers sported very short new hairstyles.

The grand total was staggering. Friday's event raised $6,600 for the Engeseth family and saw 110 proud volunteers get their heads shaved. The entire Banks varsity baseball team went short, as did alumnus Cole Linehan, a standout football player at Banks who is now a junior defensive lineman at the University of Oregon.

What was originally planned as a 15-minute assembly for interested high school students turned into an hour-long head-shaving session that drew almost 800 spectators.

'It was a lot of support for such a small school,' Pence said. 'It was really exciting.'

All told, a dozen Banks teachers and administrators got clipped, plus a brave contingent from the junior high and elementary schools.

'I couldn't believe it when we did the final count after the assembly,' Pagano said. 'Banks is a small school and a small community - people just rallied together.'