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First-grader shaves head to support cancer-stricken friend

Posted at 2:57 PM, Jan 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-28 15:13:00-05

UNION, Mo. (KSDK) -- A Missouri first-grader knows the meaning of friendship better than many adults is proving it to his buddy battling cancer.

At Central Elementary in Union, Missouri the best teachers may be first-graders Vincent Butterfield and Zac Gossage, who are good friends.

Last June, after feeling ill and tired for weeks, Zac was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells.

“As a parent, you want to make sure nothing bad ever happens to your child and when something does you want to be able to fix it,” Stacy Tooley, Zac's mother, said.

Still, while everybody around him took it hard, Zac took in stride. In fact, despite frequent trips to the hospital, he almost never missed a day of school.

“Because I get to play with Vincent outside at recess,” Zac said.

As for Vincent, he started asking questions and learning about cancer. He also learned that Zac's treatments were very expensive.

“We had been making these scarves and he just kind of said it would be cool if we could make a whole bunch of these and sell them,” Karen Butterfield, Vincent's mother, said.

Vincent sold more than 20 of the scarves, earning more than $200 for his friend.

Additionally, when the boy found out that Zac might lose his hair because of the chemotherapy treatments, he showed up to Mrs. Koester's class wearing a stocking cap.

"And he said, 'Mrs. Koester I have a surprise for Zac,'" said the boys' teacher, Adrienne Koester. "And I said, 'Well, you do, yes I do.' And he pulls off his stocking cap and here I see that he shaved his head."

Vincent explained that he had cut off his hair to make Zac feel like "he's not the only one without any hair."

Zac continues to get treatments and continues to come to school every day.

“He comes in and you say, 'How are you?' And he says, 'Fine,'”  Koester said.

When Vincent was asked what is friendship, he replied that it "is a beautiful thing."

Clearly, wisdom doesn't always come with age.