Wellesley High School student sacrifices his mullet to honor his coach, who is afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s disease
WELLESLEY - It took more than a year for Wellesley High School junior Isaac Blake to grow out his golden mullet, but on Friday night, he sacrificed it in honor of a beloved coach stricken by illness.
Gasps and cheers filled the air as about 30 people gathered on the track at Wellesley High School to take turns lopping off the party end of Blake?s coiffure. They held up handfuls of hair to a laughing and clapping crowd.
Blake's haircut raised more than $2,500 for Compassionate Care ALS (CCALS) in honor of his junior varsity basketball coach Paul Seaver, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, during the 2010-2011 basketball season.
"It's definitely a really bittersweet thing to have it cut tonight," said Blake. "I feel like sacrificing just my hair, that I have a lot of pride in, to help people with ALS is worth more.?
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. Sufferers slowly lose control over their muscle movement and can become paralyzed, according to the ALS Association.
Blake said that during the basketball season, the team didn?t know about Seaver's diagnosis. Every day, Seaver lost his voice, said Blake, but he said he just had allergies.
"Once we realized after the season that he had been fighting the early stages of ALS, we sympathized," he said. "We could see the courage and the selflessness of his attitude."
Seaver was on hand tonight and pulled Blake in for a bear hug after shaving a stripe in his hair as the crowd cheered. The ALS has made it hard for Seaver to speak, but he said in an email that he was very proud of Blake.
"He is a fantastic kid," Seaver said in the email, while expressing his thanks to the CCALS organization. "This is a wonderful act of kindness."
The decision to sacrifice his mullet, said Isaac, was a hard one. Until the clippers came out on Friday, it fell to his shoulders.
"I think almost everyone who sees it recognizes it as an expression of a carefree attitude," Blake said.
Balke said his mullet was inspired by Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks in the National Hockey League and Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings in the National Football League.
"I've always thought that a mullet was a very desirable haircut," said Blake.
The buzz cut will take some getting used to, he said. He wasn't going to go quite so short until the crowd said they would donate an extra thousand dollars on Friday night - but only if he?d shave it all off.
Blake's mullet may be gone, but it's still inspiring his teammates.
"Watching it beautifully grow out, I just had to have one of my own," said Holmes, pointing to the hair poking out of the back of his baseball hat.
Not everyone is such a fan, however.
Said Blake's mother, Julia: "I personally would not have let him have senior pictures with it."
In the first photo, Isaac Blake is shown before his hair was shorn in honor Paul Seaver, Blake’s junior varsity basketball coach afflilcted with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Blake is pictured with Seaver in the second picture. Photos by Matt Lee / Globe Staff