Top Banker shaves for worthy cause

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 08 July 2018, 12:00AM

Five years ago, Bernie Poort vowed never to go under the blade again when he last shaved his hair to raise money for cancer awareness.

However, this year the Regional Country Manager for A.N.Z Bank decided to do it all over again. 

It was not only to honour family and friends who had lost their battle to cancer, but also to throw his support behind an employee at the A.N.Z. Apia branch who is fighting last stage cancer. 

Mr. Poort and the A.N.Z. family made an impressive effort to raise money and were able to present $25,800 to the Samoa Cancer Society after the Shave it or Dye it campaign at Taumeasina Island Resort in June. 

The major event saw members of the wider community come together and raise money to help enable their outreach programmes that support cancer patients and their families.

“Cancer has touched so many of us over a long period of time. Susie and I have lost family and friends to this terrible disease over the years including Susie’s father, its heart wrenching. Right now in Samoa we have a staff member battling with late stage cancer.”

According to statistics, on average, more than 200 Samoan citizens will die because of cancer every year and sadly in more than 80 percent of these cases, if the patient had of presented their symptoms earlier, they could and would have survive.

The fundraising effort by the A.N.Z. staff and management was an outstanding team effort said Mr. Poort, who had also dyed his hair blue before he went bald.

“The staff has got right behind this great cause. They agreed to dye their hair pink, blue or purple and A.N.Z. contributed a $100 tala and they raised $6,300. We had a whole range of customers who came to us and said we want to get behind the cause when they started asking questions about why so and so hair was pink and so on.”

Mr. Poort praised the customers of A.N.Z. for their generosity as they got behind their bank to help them raise money. 

“They gave us prizes and the staff went and sold raffle tickets and raised another $6,000 on top of that. On the night we had the Sheraton volunteer to give us a thousand dollars if I got up to shave my head in front of everyone. But while we were having that debate, A.C.P. said they would raise it to $5,000 if they could do it, so Zana got up and shaved my hair, which was great.”

The big donation from Apia Concrete Products took their tally from $20,800 to $25,800, which raised everyone’s spirits.

“Most of the top corporates in Samoa, bank with A.N.Z. and which is why we have been able to raise $25,000.”

A week on and Mr. Poort says he’s growing into his new hairdo but that it did take some getting used to particularly the day after the event. 

Asked what he thought about his new look and he replied: “Well, it’s cold,” he smiled. 

“You wake up and walk in the bathroom and get a fright. I went blue for two weeks before getting my hair shaved off. Blue is actually probably harder than shaving your head because I think when you’re a guy and you’ve got your head shaved, people just think that you’re balding.”

And will Mr. Poort maintain his new look?

“My wife is looking forward to having my hair grow back again,” he laughed. “When this thing started she rang me and said ‘you’re shaving your hair for cancer and get A.N.Z. behind it’ I said to her ‘absolutely’.”

“The Samoa Cancer Society does an incredible job from funding radiotherapy treatment in Samoa just five years ago. Their ongoing treatment programmes for kids with cancer through Starship at Auckland hospital, family support and a range of palliative care initiatives. They are self-funded not for profit that needs our help to continue to provide support for cancer sufferers in Samoa.”

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 08 July 2018, 12:00AM

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