Rhonda Lee MacDonald was intrigued by a fundraising event mentioned to her by a coworker. The description of the event, called Mud Hero, stated that it would make participants get “down n’ dirty” in support of the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Hundreds of people would be slipping, sliding, jumping and wading through a challenging 6 kilometre mud obstacle course in Red Deer, Alberta on August 10-11, 2013. Rhonda Lee wasn’t afraid to get a little mud on her face—after all, she was in cadets for a long time. She enthusiastically registered for the second annual Mud Hero along with her team, appropriately named the Mudsketeers. What really resonated with Rhonda Lee about this unique fundraiser was that it was raising money for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, a cause that recently became close to her family’s heart.
Rhonda Lee’s mother-in-law Marianne was diagnosed with stage four cancer that had spread to her liver, lungs and brain in February 2013. Marianne received treatment at the Tom Baker Cancer Center in Calgary but unfortunately, she passed away shortly thereafter on April 5, 2013. Before Marianne’s passing, Rhonda Lee was able to tell her about the fundraising she was doing for Mud Hero.
“I was surprised that fundraising was optional for the event, so I set a goal for myself of $500. I was almost at my goal when Marianne passed and I knew I could do more. So then I thought of shaving my head. After all, it’s just hair,” says Rhonda Lee.
Rhonda Lee set out to exceed her fundraising goal by approaching her employer Fortis Alberta for some extra support.
“Fortis Alberta is like a second family to me and have been absolutely wonderful. They did a feature on me in the internal communications system and even hosted my head shave in the office foyer on June 7th,” says Rhonda Lee.
Rhonda Lee wasn’t alone in her head shave on June 7th. Her stepdad and fiancé also joined in and the three of them chopped off their locks in the Fortis Alberta foyer in Airdrie in front of more than 50 people to raise even more money for Rhonda Lee’s Mud Hero fundraising efforts. In a surprise twist, Rhonda Lee’s mother undid her ponytail at the event and literally let her hair down, shaving her alongside the trio! There wasn’t a dry eye in the house for this family fundraising affair.
Rhonda Lee before and after, and with her fiancé and mother who joined her at the head shave.
“It was really empowering to shave my head—and it doesn’t look bad at all! The amount of support has been overwhelming. I am most excited about all of the awareness that shaving my head has triggered,” says Rhonda Lee.
After the head shave, Rhonda Lee has now reached well over $2,000 in donations and only needs a few dollars more to achieve her new goal of $2,500 by August.
At Mud Hero, Rhonda Lee plans to proudly sport a bandana that shows the names of friends and family who have faced cancer, with Marianne’s name most prominently displayed.
“Marianne was looking forward to coming and I am sad she cannot be there, but I think she would be proud of me.”