Photo courtesy of Sanjay Brink

Sophomore Jackson Burton’s crusade against cancer

Every spring at Sacramento Country Day, the leaves are not the only thing turning green. Sophomore Jackson Burton annually dyes his hair a bright emerald, often accompanied by an extravagant hairdo.

However, this hairstyle is no fashion statement. For years, Burton has devoted time and hair to researching cancer alongside the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Supported by friends, family and the Country Day community, he has successfully raised thousands of dollars for the cause.

It all began when Burton was just five years old, inspired by his father’s volunteer work in cancer research.

“I was confused when my dad came back home bald one day, so I asked and then just joined along,” Burton said.

Aside from following in his father’s footsteps, he also enjoys the aspect of giving back to those around him.

“It was something that made me feel good, and like I was doing something for the community,” Burton said.

When Burton was in fifth grade, he began pursuing cancer research more seriously. Students were assigned a philanthropy project, and he decided to focus on the topic due to his past experience.

After explaining the cause to parents and students and recruiting volunteers to spread the word, Burton raised approximately $10,000 through donations.

Burton works closely with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation: a charity organization focused specifically on cancer research.

One year, he had the opportunity to have his head shaved on live T.V. through the organization. That year, Burton saw a sharp rise in donations, double the usual $3,000 to $4,000 raised annually.

Throughout his years of work, Burton has realized the importance of the spiritual aspect of his mission.

“As a person, you need to do something that gives you purpose, something that gives you meaning,” he said.

For Burton, his purpose is clear: aiding the resistance against cancer.

Sophomore Jaq Howes, a close friend of Burton’s, has known him for a decade — the approximate duration of Burton’s research and fundraising work.

When he isn’t working towards his cause, Burton is also known for being an easy-going person.

“He does care a lot about people, and I think he doesn’t do it for honor or glory. He does it so he can help,” Howes said.

However, Burton said he is not satisfied with his work quite yet, believing that there is still more to be done. His message to the Country Day community is clear: that even the smallest bit of effort can make a large impact when done collectively.

“A single dollar will help an entire organization,” he said.

— By Rehan Afzal

Print Friendly, PDF & Email