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Shepard students get funny haircuts for serious cause

Shepard High School junior Matt Gainer receives a Mohawk haircut from Natalie Habdas in part to help out a friend with cancer. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

Shepard High School junior Matt Gainer receives a Mohawk haircut from Natalie Habdas in part to help out a friend with cancer. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

Go ahead and laugh and point at Enrique Montoya’s haircut. The Shepard High School sophomore welcomes the mocking and the taunts.

He and four other members of the school’s group interpretation team received Mohawk haircuts on March 8 from stylist Natalie Habdas at the Palos Heights school for a couple of reasons. The most important reason is to raise money for another teammate, Zaid Shareef, who has been recently hospitalized with lung cancer.

“Bringing attention to myself, I’ll be able to tell them why I did it,” he said. “There are some people out there who have to get their head shaved because they have no other choice. I will deflect the attention from me to that cause.”

The group members also shaved their heads as a preview to the school’s St. Baldrick’s event on March 19. School officials said the past three years, the event has raised more than $150,000 to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds childhood cancer research grants.

Shepard sophomore Enrique Montoya closes his eyes and laughs during a haircut he receives from Natalie Habdas. (Jeff Vorva/Tribune)

The group interpretation team also chose the haircuts to participate in a 30-minute production of and urban/hipster version of “Hamlet,” which it performed Saturday as a South Suburban Conference-winning entry at Argo High School.

The group will perform the play again March 16-17 at the Illinois High School Association Sectional at Reavis High School. The group hopes to qualify for the state tournament finals March 23-24 in Springfield.

Others who had their heads shaved include juniors Matt Gainer and Kenny Pastore and seniors Kenny Garner and Donovan Singer.
Gainer was the first to get the haircut and screamed “Awesome! Awesome!” after he saw his new look for the first time in a mirror in the school washroom.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” he said. “The second I found out about Zaid, I knew I was going to this. It’s a good cause for a really good person, so why not? I hope we can see him or send a photo to him with the haircuts to try to cheer him up a little.”
Group interpretation coaches Eric Kallenborn and Mike Dozier said they were both impressed with the team’s rally around Shareef and the St. Baldrick’s cause.

“For the past month, they have been raising money and you’ll see donation jugs and boxes around here for donations,’’ Kallenborn said. “It’s a great thing they are doing.”

Garner, Samm Hilger, Mike Cronin and Anna Jureviciute were named All-Conference after Saturday’s performance.

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