Fraternity shaves heads for cancer fundraiser

GVL / Kevin Sielaff
Matt Ortiz getting his head shaved in Kirkhof on Wednesday for the cancer fundraiser.

GVL / Kevin Sielaff Matt Ortiz getting his head shaved in Kirkhof on Wednesday for the cancer fundraiser.

Audra Gamble

If students walked into the Kirkhof Center on Jan. 29, they might have been confused by a sight not native to the student center. Locks of hair scattered the floor by the 2020 Information Desk, and by evening, the tiles were covered with the stuff.

Why was there an impromptu barber shop in Kirkhof? The men of Delta Tau Delta took turns allowing students to shave their heads for charity.

The fundraiser, which benefits Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids, took shape shortly after fraternity brother Michael Albachten learned that his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“My mom got diagnosed back in October, and so I had a really rough first semester,” Albachten said. “I thought, ‘Well, what if we do a fundraiser for it and turned it into a philanthropy event?’ So I brought it up to our guys before Christmas break and everybody loved the idea. I pitched it to my fraternity, and everyone volunteered to shave their heads. Pretty much everybody responded to it.”

This type of event is right up Delta Tau Delta’s alley. Its chapter mission statement emphasizes community, courage and faith in brotherhood, and those attributes are exactly what it took for the brothers of Delta Tau Delta to shave their heads.

“It’s just a great coming together of all our brothers,” Connor Cauvet said. “People value their hair — it’s one of those things in today’s society — but now we’ve had at least 20 brothers come and shave their heads. It’s just really supportive of a brother that’s going through a tough time right now.”

Though the event was organized and put on by Delta Tau Delta, other fraternities at GVSU also participated.

“We’ve had a couple other brothers show up from other fraternities,” Gerald Archambeau said. “It’s a good thing to see. We had a guy from Delta Sigma Phi here earlier, and he helped a lot of brothers clean up their heads.”

Though shaving their heads in the middle of winter requires dedication, the members of the fraternity were unfazed.

“A brother asked, I do a lot of things for my brothers, and this is just one of them,” Archambeau said. “It’s great. It really captures the essence of brotherhood that you find in a fraternity. It’s the one thing that drew me to join Greek life.”

The response did not surprise Albachten either.

“I was hoping for (a good response), but it didn’t surprise me,” he said. “I’m from Allendale, so growing up in West Michigan, everyone is super nice to each other and that’s the culture around Grand Valley. If you fall down, someone will pick you back up. That’s just how it typically is here. I couldn’t have hoped for better.”

For some members of Delta Tau Delta, shaving their heads was a way to show support for more than just Albachten’s mom.

“I decided to shave my head because I learned about this in November, and my grandmother back home is actually going through the same thing, cancer,” Cauvet said. “I thought it was a good way to show my support because I’m not home right now, but it was a good way to show my support over here.”

Those who participated in the fundraiser could pay $2 for a single swipe with a razor or could shave an entire head for a $9 donation. All the money will be donated to Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids.

“I thought donating to Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids would be a good idea because I know my mom’s talked about them, and it’s on the way to where my sister lives in Grand Rapids,” Albachten said. “(My mom has) talked about it ever since she was diagnosed, so I thought that would be a good thing.”

Though Albachten’s mother was recently diagnosed, she is coping well and greatly appreciated the fundraiser.

“She actually came out and she was one of the ones that helped shave my head,” he said. “She took a couple swipes at some of the other guys’ heads, too, which was cool. She said she had a ton of fun, she could have been there all day. She really enjoyed it. She’s taking it really well; she’s super strong through the whole thing.”

Though the head shaving has been completed, those who would like to donate can make a monetary contribution through Wednesday at

“This was a great fundraiser for us,” Albachten said. “It’s important for people to know that more people than not are affected by some kind of cancer, and it’s important to be supportive of the people that are struggling with it.”