March 25, 2014
The Caramanis family's Albemarle County home was full of celebration on Tuesday.
"It's been a long time coming," said Pete Caramanis. "This is something we've looked forward to now for over three years. Not really knowing what it was going to be like to get there or whether we would get there."
Tuesday marked the 1,176th -- and final -- day of chemotherapy for his 12-year-old son, Brandon.
Brandon is a student at Walton Middle School. He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was 9 years old. Brandon says fighting the cancer wasn't easy, but it was worth it.
"It's really hard and there's a lot of bad things you have to deal with," he said. "And then when you get out of it, you'll be a better person for it."
With strong support at home, school and at UVa Children's Hospital, Brandon is ready to move forward. His family celebrated his final day of pills with balloons, posters and a cake. A trip to Disney is on the books for this weekend.
And now that's his son is healthy, Caramanis isn't wasting any time helping other children and families in a similar situation. He will be buzzing his hair at Thursday's St. Baldrick's Foundation Head-Shaving Event being held at The Biltmore, where Brandon will be honored.
The foundation raises money for research to fight childhood cancer so more kids like Brandon can have something to celebrate.
Last year, the organization awarded a $50,000 grant to the UVa School of Medicine to examine potential new cancer treatments for kids.
Through his participation as a "shavee," Caramanis has already brought in more than $6,000 in donations.
"I've been known my whole life for my very curly hair, so it'll be much different," he said. "But these kids, Brandon included, lost their hair without any choice and you see them and it doesn't phase them. They understand their hair doesn't define them."
More than 75 people have registered to have their heads shaved. The St. Baldrick's Foundation hopes to raise $90,000 at the event.
For more details on the head-shaving event, click HERE .