When Taste of Alaska manager Bonnie Kindle shaved her head, she hadn’t met the little boy she was supporting.
“It’s a small community, so I just wanted to support this little boy from my heart,” she said.
Over the summer, 2-year-old Björn Roth was diagnosed with cancer. Björn has B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), which is a cancer that affects certain cells in the immune system. He is currently at Seattle Children’s Hospital for a chimeric antigen receptor study (CAR-T trial).
When Kindle read about Björn and his family, she knew almost immediately that she would shave her head in solidarity with the toddler, as his big sister did.
“I just read the story and I went in the next day,” Kindle said. “I first called my coworker Patty up. I said ‘Patty, I’m going to shave my head to support that little boy that has Leukemia.’ … I stopped in and said ‘you better take your last look, because I’m going to go get it done.’”
Kindle and Patty Vanzwol work at Taste of Alaska in Napavine together. Through the grapevine that is social media, Björn’s grandmother heard what Kindle did. She came to the restaurant to drop off a donation jar and hug Kindle.
“She calls me on the phone and lets me know how the little guy is doing,” Kindle said. “So far, from what I’m understanding, he is doing better. But I haven’t heard how the last treatment went. … I pray for him a lot — we’re praying for him. I’m pulling for him and, if the family needs anything, I’ll do my best to help them.”
Björn’s family said they are essentially waiting for Björn’s T cells — the ones that help with the immune system — to grow. So far he is doing well, but must stay close to the hospital.
This isn’t the first time Kindle has supported children battling cancer. When Kindle lived further north, she worked in pediatrics at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“When the mothers and fathers needed a break, I would be what you call a ‘grandma’ or a ‘mom,’ where you go in and rock a child when the parent needed a break,” Kindle said. “Children need to be sponsored too, and I just wanted to sponsor this little boy. But I would do it for any child.”
Even after Kindle moved to Napavine, she and her daughter continued going to Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“We would sponsor a child that was going through cancer and we would both shave our heads to support the children,” Kindle said. “We would get a hat and a little pin with their picture on it to support them.”
Said Kindle, “The family here from Taste of Alaska, we’re all pulling for this little boy.”