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Past and Present Lehigh Football Players Go Prematurely Bald

You'd think with a headline like "Past and Present Lehigh Football Players Go Prematurely Bald" that the next sentence I'd be writing would be an ad for "Hair Club For Men".

Instead, though, I'm going to be writing about how a bunch of Lehigh football players going prematurely bald is a great, inspirational thing.

This past Sunday, "Team Jack" went to nearby Phillipsburg, New Jersey, to get their heads shaved in solidarity with their favorite teammate and biggest fan, ten year old Jack Knudson, and also raise more than $2,000 for the St. Baldrick's foundation for pediatric cancer research.

(You can still donate to "Team Jack" by clicking on this link and clicking the "Donate" button.)


"When [former Lehigh] DT Sajjad Chagani first approached me about the idea of participating in the St. Baldrick's Foundation event, I was scared about losing my hair," rising junior LB Matt Laub told me.  "However, as time went by and I thought more and more about what I and the other participants were doing for Jack, his family, and all cancer patients I was excited."

The event this Sunday involved Sajjad, Matt and a host of other Lehigh football players shaving their heads at the same time as Jack to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

Jack first became a member of the Lehigh football program when he was eight years old, when he was adopted by the 2011 squad.  Jack, a cancer survivor who first had surgery at four to remove part of a brain tumor, is lucky to be alive.

"By doing this event for the Knudson family, we all showed Jack that he is not alone in his continuous struggle with this horrible disease," Matt said.

The neurosurgery required to remove tumors from the brain has advanced amazingly through the past decade, and it was a very brave decision to try to go in and remove the tumor that was at one time determined to be inoperable.

Many adults would not have been able to survive that stroke that followed, but Jack, the fighter, did, though it took most of the strength from the right side of his body and a good portion of his vision.

Jack was made an honorary team member after he came to a Lehigh spring game in 2011 with his grandfather, Lehigh fan Andy Werner, where he met coach Andy Coen and got a autographed team ball.  Jack has remained a member of the team, and become a fixture at Lehigh events and football games, ever since.

"They could have given him a shirt, a ball and a hat and said 'nice to meet you' and that was it," Werner said back in 2011.  "But Lehigh has continued to stay in touch, and they have done so much more. They have gone above and beyond what we ever expected."

One of those players on that 2011 squad was Chagani, now a member of the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks arena football team.  He has kept up with his fundraising and organized this year's "Shave for the Brave" event, organizing current football team members to join up as well.

"We all raised money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation and the fight against childhood cancer," Matt Laub said.  "We had a much bigger turn out of participants this year for the event and it is definitely something that we all look forward to doing in the coming years to support Jack and his fight against cancer."

It might mean going prematurely bald - but for the "Jack Attack" team, who is inspired by Jack's courage, are happy to make it happen.

"By adopting Jack as one our own we accept him as a very valuable part of our Lehigh Football family, and we are willing to do whatever it is to let him know that we are there for him," Matt said.

Team 'Jack Attack' includes:
DT Sajjad Chagani
Senior WR Josh Parris
Senior DL Arturo Guyles
Senior DL Tim Newton
Junior LB Cody Kondas
Junior LB Matt Laub
Junior LB Mat Verdon
Junior LB Noah Robb
Junior DB Olivier Rigaud
Junior OL Ryan James
Junior OL Terez Owens
Sophomore LB Colton Caslow
Sophomore LB Evan Harvey
Tom Wilk (team student equipment manager)










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