Local police officers, firefighters, teachers and high school students gave up their time, money and hair Thursday at California High in recognition of a 5-year-old cancer survivor from San Ramon.
The "Shave for the Brave" fundraiser, benefiting the nonprofit St. Baldrick's Foundation, was organized in honor of J.J. Moisa, a two-time survivor of brain cancer who's about to enter kindergarten.
"I work with courageous men and women on the police force every day, but J.J. takes courage to a whole new level," said San Ramon Police Chief Joe Gorton, one of the many to have their heads shaved Thursday. "I'm honored to be part of such a worthwhile cause."
"We are so overwhelmed by the support and generosity," said Moisa's mom, Holly. "This will be a day our family will never forget."
The event originated after Cal High school resource officer Cpl. Tami Williams met with the Moisa family, which was looking for volunteers to take part in a similar fundraiser at Children's Hospital Oakland earlier this month, Gorton said.
Williams, instead, decided to organize a local fundraiser in young Moisa's honor, the police chief said.
"I'm a mom and once I met J.J., I thought it was a great opportunity for all of us to come together," Williams said. "We often we see people at their worst, and this was a chance to see them at their best, working together."
Thursday's event began at the Moisa home, where police officers and firefighters arrived to escort the family to Cal High.
"When J.J.'s mom called the fire district to ask us to participate in the St. Baldrick's 'Shave for the Brave' fundraiser, we jumped at the opportunity to support their effort and this amazing little boy," San Ramon Valley Fire Captain Erik Falkenstrom said.
Moisa and his family rode to the school in a San Ramon Valley Fire engine driven by firefighters who came in on their day off to support the event, fire district spokeswoman Kimberly French said. Moisa donned a superhero cape complete with a San Ramon Valley Fire logo donated by the "Capes4Heroes" organization.
Once at the campus, dozens of people participated in the head-shaving fundraiser during the school's lunch break, raising more than $4,000 for the foundation. For a minimum $10 donation, anyone could go under the hair trimmer to benefit childhood-cancer research and support young cancer survivors.
"I did not expect to have that much support," Williams said. "It was great to have everyone come together for such an incredible cause."
St. Baldrick's head-shaving fundraisers have grown from a single event in 2000 to more than 1,300 in 2012, according to the foundation website.