You’ll probably never see Dan Gundert kiss a cow again.
Both he and principal Paul Holland puckered up with a calf Friday at Westwood Elementary as a hilarious reward for students who raised more than $4,000 to benefit Olivia Smith, a second-grader battling cancer.
Screams rose from the students when the lips hit home and rose again when the duo took whipped cream pies to the face. But that noise was nothing compared to the happy howls when principal Paul Holland announced how much kids had raised for their ill classmate.
“Cheer for the fun things you got to watch here today but cheer even more for the generosity in your hearts,” Holland told students. “Some of you don’t even really know Olivia, and your effort to reach out to a classmate and say, ‘We’re going to help you,’ is truly inspiring. It’s really all we, as adults, can hope for.”
Holland arrived with head shaved in support of Smith, who was diagnosed with leukemia in November. During Friday’s assembly, Gundert’s head was also shaved clean.
Smith and her mother, Heather, watched the fun unfold from the front row.
“I’m just overwhelmed,” Heather said. “I almost teared up in there while trying to take in all of this generosity from the community. All the time and effort the school staff put into this — it just means so much to me and my family. It’s just amazing and a beautiful day.”
A group of boys shaved their head in solidarity with Smith. Westwood third-grader Trinity Ridenour was the only girl to do so but said it wasn’t much of a sacrifice to make for Team Olivia.
“I didn’t want her to go through this alone,” Ridenour said. “If you show them there’s people around that care about what’s going on, it makes them happy. Maybe it will make their problems a little easier.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.