In December, a local family learned their son had a racquetball-sized tumor in his brain. This morning Nick Folkens went in for an eight hour surgery to partially remove the mass.
Local 12's Tiffany Wilson shows us how his eighth grade classmates stepped up to support him.
Students at Saint Margaret of York wear uniforms in the classroom and on the court. So when Nick Folkens showed up at school and told his friends he had a brain tumor -- they wanted to show he was still part of the group. "I just don't want him to feel different."
Nick needed his hair cut before today's operation. "All the guys in our grade wanted to make him feel better about it, so we all decided to shave our heads."
A volunteer clipped away curls while carefully avoiding the electrodes that will guide Nick's neurosurgeons. The cheers turned to rallying cries as one after the other, eighth grade boys sat down on temporary barber stools and sheared their shaggy hair. At one point, even Nick grabbed the clippers. "It felt special because no one else got their hair cut by him and I've known him as long as I can remember."
Solidarity runs runs very deep here at St. Margaret of York. In all, more than 30 eighth grade boys along with their principal and a teacher got their head shaved in support of Nick.
Through most of the event -- Nick didn't say a word. The smile on his face spoke for him. "Honestly, I don't think he'd be able to get through this without all these kids."
Nick's parents say their world stopped when their Moeller bound son collapsed on December 15th. "One day you're there and everything's fine. And the next day, everything's different."
Throughout the past seven weeks, they've been floored by the community support at St. Margaret. If surgery goes well --- Nick could return to school before everyone's hair grows back. "For people to come out and show support for my son like that, it's unbelievable I couldn't ask for anything more."
Doctors are hoping to remove 50 to 75 percent of the tumor today. After that Nick will most likely begin radiation treatments.