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High school seniors spread Ari's light by shaving their heads

Ari's brother Aidan organized an event at Ladue High School to raise money for childhood cancer research

LADUE, Mo. — At Ladue High School, today is a good hair day.

Aidan Dougan, 17, has been growing out his hair for two and a half years.

"I'd grown it out 9 inches, or maybe 10 inches," he said.

But even though he still needs to take his all-important senior pictures, he's about to shave it all off.

"To say I'm proud is such an understatement," his mom Lori Zucker said.

This is all part of a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick's Foundation which raises money for childhood cancer research.  And few know better than Aidan, why that research is so important.

Aidan's sister Ari was one of those rare people who created her own sunshine.

"She was this bubbly, fun person, always telling jokes," remembers Aidan.

When she was just three, Ari was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer that develops in nerve tissue that usually affects kids under age five.  No one so little should have to go through so much but it never dimmed Ari's smile.

"From ages 3 to 11, she was in and out of the hospital," Zucker said. "Doctors and nurses were her friends and she made the best of her time."

Parents are supposed to plan their children's future, they aren't supposed to plan funerals. But in November of 2017, Ari passed away.

So this day at Ladue High School isn't about hair it's about heart.

And though Aidan likes his long locks, something important happens when he shaves it off.

"I'd get questions about it and I could help spread awareness that way," Aidan said.

In fact, some of Aidan's friends put their vanity aside to shave their heads in support.

 "We're in our head a lot kind of thinking about ourselves, so I think it's a really good thing to think about someone else for a change," said 17-year-old Noah Marut who also had his head shaved.

Less than 4% of the federal budget for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancer. 

"So that's why families like ours. We have to raise money in order to save our kids," Zucker said.

Honoring his sister by going a cut above. One young man showing us all that bald can be beautiful.

"We can take her light and we can take her kindness and since she's not here anymore to spread it, we can spread it for her," Zucker said.

Lori and the Dougan's also started a foundation to help kids battling cancer, called "Spread Ari's Light" and they have a big, fundraising event next month.

If you'd like to help, go to SpreadArislight.com.

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