Scott Morton, pictured, not only raised money but also donated his hair for wigs for children with cancer
Photo: Mike Zenari
How an unlikely friendship between a pro-Luxembourg basketball player and a childhood mentor raised more than $8,000 for a global children’s cancer charity.
At the tender age of eight, Scott Morton met Scott Ungerer in Syracuse, New York. Ungerer was a sophomore at high school, seven years older than Morton and a talented basketball player, just like Morton hoped to be.
What developed between the two was an unlikely friendship. Ungerer became Morton’s mentor and role model. Although Ungerer moved to Holland and then Germany, where he played in the Bundesliga, the two remained close.
Ungerer eagerly monitored the progress of Morton’s basketball career initially in Durham, England, and then to Basket Racing Luxembourg, where he currently plays.
When Ungerer’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in 2015, Morton was amongst many others to offer support and raise funds for treatment. However, despite the best efforts of medical staff, Ungerer’s son, Luke, passed away in 2016, leaving him devastated but with an overwhelming desire to help other children suffering from cancer.
“Scott was and is always so positive and optimistic,” explains Morton. “He put his own grief aside in order to try and ensure the same thing didn’t happen to other children.” Luke had been treated by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which provides funding for research into childhood cancers. Ungerer’s goal was to raise as much money as possible for the foundation so that a grant could be given in Luke’s memory.
“I initially got involved in raising money for the foundation from selling drawstring bags and then T-shirts,” explains Morton. “However, the goal was always to grow my hair. That way, I not only raised money for the foundation but could donate my hair to be used in making a wig for a child with cancer.”
Growing it out
It took two very long and frustrating years to grow his hair long enough for the challenge, and Morton is the first to admit that he hated it. “My hair just looked awful and when it was long enough, I just put it in a bun immediately. I have so much admiration now for women with long hair, it takes time and commitment!”
On 4 April this year, Nathalie and Manuel de Abreu from NM Coiffure on boulevard Royal came to the basketball court at the International School of Luxembourg, where Morton helps to coach, to shave off his hair. NM Coiffure covered all the costs and donated the hair to a company that makes wigs for children in Belgium. “It was really great to have the hairdresser’s support me as well as ISL and Basket Racing Luxembourg,” says Scott.
Scott raised more than $3,500 in sponsorship money and over $4,500 from selling Lux City T-shirts supporting the foundation at basketball games. “The response was overwhelming and I am delighted to say that we have raised enough money to sponsor a grant for the research done via St. Baldrick’s Foundation.”
Whilst Scott hopes to continue raising money for the foundation in the future, he admits that he may need a little break before growing his hair again. But it was certainly worth it.
St. Baldrick’s Foundation is always looking for “shavees” to join or organise head-shaving events. The charity says such events have gained major momentum since starting in 2000. “Today, we have more than 1,000 head-shaving events taking place around the world at pubs, restaurants, schools, churches, parks, firehouses, military bases.”