It takes a special kind of person to be able to safely drive an 8-foot wide, 40-foot long, and 23,500-pound vehicle full of school kids. It takes an even more special kind of person to be able to do that and also not only connect with the kids they transport but to leave a stamp on their hearts. Bruce Zimmer, a bus driver for Gilbertsville- Mount Upton has done both.

In 1999, Zimmer’s young friend Cassie was battling Acute Myeloid Leukemia and she laid the pressure on hard for Zimmer to let her cut his hair. In December, Zimmer finally caved and let Cassie take the clippers to his head. Two weeks later Cassie lost her fight and gained her wings. In the summer of 2001, Zimmer shaved his head again while working at Camp Dost, which is a camp for kids with cancer. He shaved his head so that he’d fit in with the kids and fit in he did. As a matter of fact, every summer for the next five years, Zimmer would shave his hair at camp, even letting the kids help.

Then, Zimmer realized that he could shave his head in a show of support for kids with cancer and raise funds at the same time if he were to do so through St. Baldrick’s. And so, for the second year, Zimmer will be shaving his head to raise money for kids fighting cancer and what he’s doing has made an incredible impact on the kids he drives to and from school as well as their parents.

Lee Mangiamele is the parent of one of the kids that Zimmer transports to and from school and she shared with us Zimmer’s story and what it means to the kids he interacts with every day:

Bruce Zimmer is an amazing man. He is my kids bus driver and ALL the kids (pre-K through 12th grade) on the bus LOVE him. He makes the trip to and from school full of fun, playing trivia games and sharing awareness days with the kids. He never misses a holiday and a chance to spread joy, from making them homemade cookies to handing out candy canes and even wearing a Santa hat during the month of December! Last year he told the kids on a Friday that they were going to have a new bus driver on Monday. The kids came home SO sad on a Friday! They moped around all weekend and several parents, not just myself, had to drag the kids out of bed and force them onto the bus Monday morning! With tears in my daughters eyes and my older son dragging his feet it broke my heart to watch them get on the bus that day. I will never in my life forget that weekend. I didn't realize until then how much my kids cared about their driver, to them, he is the best part of their day. Lucky for ALL of us the kids called me at work ecstatic that afternoon telling me that they still have Bruce, he played a trick on them all and shaved his head and beard! None of us knew he was shaving his head to raise money for childhood cancer. So here we are, Bruce is doing it again! He is shaving his head and beard to raise money for Childhood Cancer Research and I just want to spread the word and get him as many donations as possible, it is the only way I know how to show Bruce how much he means to our school, our children and our tiny community!

Every two minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer. As a matter of fact, more kids die from childhood cancer than from any other disease. This is your chance to step up, to make a difference in the world, and to show Zimmer appreciation for being such a positive influence for our kids. Oh, and did you know that one of the research hospitals that funds from St. Baldrick's benefits is the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a hospital that this radio station is a proud supporter of!

If you would like to donate to Zimmer’s St. Baldrick’s fundraiser you can do that here and you can also stop by the American Legion Post 189 on Sheldon Street in Norwich on Saturday, March 16th between 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. in person to show Zimmer how much he’s loved and appreciated.

[via St. Baldrick's]