Tucker Smith was one of just three people who shaved their heads for all of Brave the Shave’s 10 years … but he didn’t attend this year’s festivities to celebrate this achievement.
True to his quiet, modest nature, Tucker shaved his head without fanfare at the end of the Bismarck Bobcats’ Brave the Shave night – after the hockey players and coaches who participated had already shaved. But he says that’s just fine with him. “I just do it so the kids battling cancer can see another bald head walking around town,” he says. “I’m not seeking recognition.”
For the past nine years, Tucker has shaved his head at the Bismarck flagship event with the other hundreds of people participating – amid the flashes of the cameras and all the ceremony that accompanies the campaign’s biggest event. While he would have done it at the event again this year, when his curling team qualified for the U.S. Curling Club Nationals in Fairbanks, AK, which was to be held during the same time as the event, he says he was perfectly happy to buzz his hair in a more low-key manner at a later date.
Tucker has been involved in curling for most of his life – nearly 20 years – and has gone to nationals eight times. This year, however, was the most special because his dad was on his team, and they took third place, bringing home a bronze medal. “Winning a medal with my dad was definitely the highlight of my trip,” he says.
While in Fairbanks, Tucker says he and his dad were also able to witness the start of the Iditerod, which was moved to Fairbanks for the fifth time in the race’s history because of the lack of snow in its normal starting point in Anchorage. “It was pretty neat,” Tucker says. “It was kind of like the start of a marathon here, with lots of people watching and cheering. The big difference was that it was 37 degrees below zero.”
The chill of the hockey arena at Saturday’s Brave the Shave night was nothing after that.
Each year, Tucker sets a goal of raising $1,000 for family support and pediatric cancer research, “guilting mostly his coworkers into donating” to a cause that is close to his heart. In high school, one of his younger classmates was diagnosed with cancer, and while she beat it, at 29 years old she has had both hips and one shoulder replaced so far as a result of the treatments. “I saw her battle cancer and spend months on end in the hospital,” he says. “Knowing what these kids go through in their battles with cancer makes shaving my head a really small sacrifice for me to make.”
In the 10 years since Tucker started braving the shave, he has raised about $10,000, but that’s not what he is most proud of. “Being just another bald head” is why he does it. “If I can bring one smile to one kid, it’s worth shaving my head – the money I raise is just a bonus.” That said, he wants to challenge more people to participate. “People cut their hair short for spring all the time – they might as well just shave it off. It’ll grow back in a couple months anyway,” he says. “The kids who are battling cancer being able to see all these bald heads means a lot – even if you don’t raise a lot of money.”