Ronald Reagan once said, “Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes, they just don’t know where to look.” Maybe his stature hides him from the public, but Trumbull resident Aubin Bulkley stands tall among his peers as a hero.

Aubin, 11, is your average kid doing something extraordinary.

A top student at Booth Hill Elementary and a member of the TAG (Trumbull Academically Gifted) program, he likes to fill his time with learning the intricacies of computer programming and engineering. He loves to read and is a fierce competitor on the basketball court.

However, there’s one passion he keeps close to his heart that separates him from his peers.

Teaming with St. Baldrick’s — a charity that helps to fund research to find a cure for pediatric cancer — Aubin has been raising money for the last six years by shaving his head. While this may sound crazy to some, it’s exactly why others call him a hero.

One of the cruel and unfortunate side effects of cancer treatments is the loss of one’s hair.

“We went to a live-shave event at Baker Pediatrics [of Trumbull] and I saw other people shaving and thought it would be cool to do,” said Aubin.

“This will be my sixth year shaving,” he told The Times. “For the past few years, I've grown my hair out all year long to make a bigger impact on my peers. I have about six inches of hair right now.”

Not alone

It is the mission of St. Baldrick’s “shavees” to shave their heads voluntarily to show support for those who have lost their hair.

Shaving is a catalyst of encouragement and inspiration for the children, letting them know they are not alone.

Shavees stand baldly and proudly behind the pediatric patients, the true heroes, as they fight the battle of a lifetime.  

Locks of dollars

Over the last three years, Aubin has raised $6,500 in donations, but in the past year alone he raised an impressive $4,616 — with additional donations expected to trickle in by mail over the coming weeks.

The 11-year-old philanthropist received 70 individual contributions during this year’s quest to raise money.  

This year, Aubin is shaving his head in honor of a family friend and fellow Trumbull native, Shea Marazita.

“Shea Marazita is a young woman who lives in Trumbull with her family,” Aubin told The Times. “She was diagnosed with cancer last year. We met her family through the Facebook group Keep Trumbull Real and quickly became friends.”

Shaving grace

Since he was 5, Aubin has been shaving his head for children’s cancer, but he hasn’t always understood the significance of his buzz cut.

“When I started doing this, I didn’t know a thing about cancer and I really just thought they took a medicine for it and that was it,” said Aubin. “It would be really hard for them to lose their hair. It would impact what people think of them. I make it known why I’ve shaved so that people don’t judge me.”

More than $10,000 in donations later, Aubin has come full circle in understanding the struggle of his peers, and so has his family.

Each year as Aubin’s understanding of the disease has grown, so have his contributions to St. Baldrick’s.

A mother’s challenge

With no signs of his slowing down this year, his mother, Angela, issued a challenge to her son: Raise $5,000 and I will shave my head, too.

Considering he had raised $6,500 in the past three years, $5,000 in a single year was setting the bar high. However, Aubin was absolutely thrilled his mother was getting in on the action and was ready to rise to the occasion.

Although he came up $384 short of the mark, Angela Bulkley decided to make it a family affair and joined in with her youngest son, Gabe, 8, and her husband, Jon, to shave their heads and become one big, happy bald family.

The Bulkleys held a shave party at their home on Huntington Turnpike on May 5, with Shea and her family on hand as the master of ceremonies. The hairdresser who donated her services was Eva Osvay from Salon 1560 in Fairfield.

When asked if he hopes to inspire more children like himself, Aubin said, “Yes, I do, very much.

“The more people that raise money, the faster they can find a cure for children’s cancer,” he said.

Donations may be made online at https://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/866048/2016 (Aubin’s personal participant page) or mailed to St. Baldrick’s Foundation, 1333 S. Mayflower Avenue, Suite 400, Monrovia CA 91016-9845, participant ID# 866048.