THUNDER BAY -- Two years ago, after letting his hair grow wildly for months on end, Dalton Giertuga shaved his head.
The hair he cut off was turned into a wig, used by a cancer patient who had lost their hair because of chemotherapy treatments.
Eleven at the time, Dalton said he did it to honour a grandfather he never met, a man who died of cancer at age 47.
On Thursday his efforts were rewarded.
Dalton and Jacqueline Dyck received certificates of nomination from the Ontario Community Newspaper Association's Junior Citizens of the Year Award program, which recognizes children between six and 17 who have gone above and beyond to give back to the community.
Both teens are in the running to be one of 12 winners chosen province-wide.
“I’m very honoured to get this award. I’ve tried my best to help out people,” Dalton said.
Thinking of others is important, he added.
It’s why he decided to do something for his grandfather.
“I wanted to do something in his honour, so I decided to grow out my hair getting pledges. I actually raised $3,000 for cancer and I shaved my head in front of the school community.”
He’s an inspiration to all around him, said his mother, Jo Anne Giertuga, the principal at Murillo’s Crestview Elementary School.
“I’m learning a lot from him on compassion, dedication, motivation and a lot of leadership. And with my two other boys, he’s leading the way for them,” she said, on hand Thursday to see Dalton receive his award at TD’s new Memorial Avenue branch.
Jacqueline said she’s spent her whole life volunteering and work in her community, inspired by both her parents and grandparents – not to mention her sister, who also received an Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year award at the tender age of seven.
“My whole life I was just brought up to know it was normal to volunteer and work in your community. All I know is being a volunteer, doing work and helping those less fortunate and doing anything possible I can to be a Good Samaritan.”
She was nominated for a combination of efforts.
At the moment she’s trying help forge an Thunder Bay event to correspond with We Day and Free the Children, called We Stand Up.
She’s also volunteered to help Parkinson’s patients and at the Cancer Society helping to fundraise for both.
Parkinson’s disease research has a particularly special place in her heart.
“I haven’t ever known my grandfather without Parkinson’s. That’s been my whole life. I’m very close with my grandparents. I love them very much. So him having to suffer this … has made a huge impact on how I view him and the community because there are so many people that do suffer and I feel it’s important that we find a cure.”
The 12 finalists will be announced on Jan. 25, with the winners invited to a March 8 ceremony to receive their awards.
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