Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 14, 2013

What's the buzz all about?

AHS hoop team gets clipped to aid pediatric cancer charity

By Bill Burt

---- — It’s one thing to wake up early one morning and go to Lawrence and help get a bunch of frozen turkeys to a local homeless shelter.

You do your work — quietly — and go home feeling good.

It’s another thing to go to Lawrence and have your head shaved — as in John Pisacreta’s case, shorter than it has ever been before — also in the name of charity.

Sunday was the latter for the Andover High boys basketball players, long noted for their community service endeavors.

They participated in the Children’s Cancer Buzz-off at Charlie Daher’s Commonwealth Motors in Lawrence to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

In all, about $15,000 was raised with Daher expected to match $10,000.

“My parents weren’t too happy,” said Pisacreta, who will be Andover High’s basketball captain this winter. “But it’s OK. I don’t have a problem with it. It’s for the right reason, cancer.”

Pisacreta said almost 10 of the returning players from last year participated in the benefit shaving. And while a few kids were antsy, in the end, everybody was “all in,” or better yet, “all off” for Sunday’s event, which saw about 100 people raise money by having their hair cut off.

“The concept was simple; raise some pledges and get your head buzzed,” said Tyler Reed of Commonwealth Motors, the event’s organizer who himself has battled cancer.

Andover High boys basketball coach Dave Fazio, unfortunately wasn’t able to participate. His head already is completely bald. But he was there rooting his players on.

“For me, this is like the start of the season,” Fazio said. “Not everyone was gung ho about having their heads shaved, but as a team the players decided to do it. I’m very proud. This is about being a team and I see this as a team-building event.”

Fazio said his team participates in several community service projects throughout the year, including during the basketball season.

“That’s an important element of our program, helping others,” said Fazio, who grew up in Lawrence without a father around. “It really means a lot because our guys have fun doing things like this. And they do it together.”

Andover players raised $1,085 for the Buzz-Off, which was just over their goal of $1,000.

All of the proceeds from the fundraiser will support One Mission, which offers financial assistance to families as their children battle cancer. Reed, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 21, says that without help from his friends, family members and coworkers at Commonwealth Motors, he would have never been able to financially make it through his treatments.

Pisacreta admitted that his fresh-buzzed head “will take a little getting used to.”

“I’ve never had my hair this short before. Never. But think about the cause. Think about how much money we raised. I’m very pleased with the result,” he said.

As for the smirks he expected to get at school this week, Pisacreta didn’t flinch.

“I honestly don’t care what people think,” he said. “Considering the cause, I can live with short hair for a while.”