Jacob Thiel and Nick Mazzolini have been best friends since the fifth grade.
The Lake in the Hills teens, both 17 years old and seniors at Crystal Lake South High School, share a passion for snowboarding, dirt biking and hockey.
This year, however, the friends haven’t hit the hills for boarding and haven’t been able to hang out every weekend like most teens.
After suffering for a long time from what doctors thought was a sinus infection, Mazzolini was diagnosed in November with lymphoma. He had a tumor in his sinus area.
Currently, Mazzolini is in the midst of chemotherapy and radiation treatments and can only go out in public — or have friends visit — when his blood counts are up. But his friend is doing what he can to show his support.
“I’ve been doing all I can,” Thiel said. “I’ve been going to see him at the hospital. We’ve gone out for pizza, and we’ve been able to watch some Blackhawks games together.”
Now, Thiel is taking another step to bolster Mazzolini’s spirits, and help other children and adolescents fighting childhood cancer at the same time.
Thiel is participating in the Kiawanis Key Club “ShaveAthon” on March 16 at Crystal Lake South High School, 1200 S. McHenry Ave., through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. He already has hit is goal of raising $1,000.
Both boys have had a good head of hair ever since they became best friends. Mazzolini lost his hair about three months ago. Now, Thiel will shave his dark brown locks.
“Giving up my hair for a friend is a sacrifice I will gladly give,” Jacob says on his St. Baldrick’s donation webpage.
Mazzolini, who spoke from his bed at Loyola Hospital in Maywood on Monday, said he was touched by his friend’s support and willingness to shave his head.
“I thought it was really cool,” Thiel said. “We’ve always liked the same things, and we get along really well. Jacob has been really supportive. He comes to see me whenever he can.”
Mazzolini said he’s not sure if he will be permitted to witness the actually ShaveAthon — the time for which has not been determined. He will be there, if his blood counts allow it, he said.
So far, 14 Crystal Lake South “shavees” have signed up to participate, according to the St. Baldrick website.
Thiel is the top fundraiser, having collected $1,190 so far. Anyone who wants to donate to the cause can go to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website.
In the meantime, Mazzolini will concentrate on getting better and working on his school studies from home. He’s nearing the end of an intense round of treatments and should need only one monthly treatment for each of the next four months, he said.
Mazzolini's hoping, if all goes well, to participate in his high school graduation — right alongside his best friend.