His strawberry-blonde hair pony-tailed behind and his eyes looking ahead toward a tear-free future, Christopher Groska imagines ways to “give kids hope and hair one cut at a time.”
Groska, a Coon Rapids resident, incorporates that phrase as the signature statement for his Shears to Stop Tears incorporation, the vehicle with which he longs to provide that hope.
Shears to Stop Tears would partner with other organizations, staging hair-cutting events so that people could donate their hair to make wigs for children battling cancer and other conditions that result in hair loss.
Demonstrating the ease with which hope can be delivered to those children, Groska, president and CEO of Shears to Stop Tears, is growing his own hair long so that it can be used to make a wig.
Groska, himself dealing with physical challenges due to cerebral palsy, said his own experience as a target of teasing inspired him to do something.
“As a child, very often I was the subject of teasing because of my condition,” Groska said, strapped into his wheelchair and peering through wire-rimmed bifocals at a visitor.
“I remember at the time I decided that as long as I have anything to do about it, no one else will be the subject of teasing,” he said.
It is for that reason that Groska’s Shears to Stop Tears is targeted at helping children age three to 17 years old.
Shears to Stop Tears, Groska said, can give children attractive wigs to cover balding heads while they endure cancer treatments and other conditions.
Of course, the families of those children would also benefit.
Other inspiration for the creation of Shears to Stop Tears was provided when Groska witnessed family members fight cancers of various sorts.
His grandmother is a 12-year survivor of breast cancer. His father is currently battling sarcoma. And his grandfather succumbed to cancer and died some years ago.
“When you’re fighting cancer and going through all the treatments, there are many challenges,” Groska said. “Hair loss is one challenge, but there are also financial challenges.”
Groska’s hope is to provide financial support to those fighting cancer and other diseases, he said.
His dreams to support children and their families also includes his hope to find property on which to build an apartment building for patients and their families.
“There would be one wing for patients during their treatments. Another wing would be for families of the more terminal patients,” Groska said, describing the affordable housing he hopes to one day offer.
“I want to give people a more affordable place to stay during this difficult time. It’s just another way I can offer support.”
While Shears to Stop Tears is already incorporated in the state of Minnesota, Groska is currently applying for 501 (c) 3 status for the organization.
“I want to get that designation as soon as I can so that people can give tax-deductible donations. I’d like to become federally incorporated eventually so that way there can be Shears to Stop Tears offices in California, Florida, Arizona… all over the country,” Groska said.
As Groska and his mother (serving as Shears to Stop Tears vice president) work to be established as a 501(c) 3 organization and plan a kick-off hair-cutting event, he invites people to donate aluminum cans or cash to fund Shears to Stop Tears’ activities.
“We can’t accept plastic or steel or glass, only aluminum,” Groska said.
Bins to collect aluminum cans are already set up at the Margaret Place ILS office at 11801 Xeon Blvd., Coon Rapids.
For directions to that office, or for instructions on donating aluminum, call 763-862-5449.
Checks, made out to Shears to Stop Tears, Inc., can be mailed to Shears to Stop Tears, Inc., 1555-118th Lane N.W., Apartment 108, Coon Rapids, MN 55448.
Since the organization has not yet achieved 501(c) 3 status, a mailing address or an e-mail address is necessary, Groska said, so that he can send a form to be signed by the donor, verifying the donor’s understanding that the donation is non-tax deductible at this time.
All the while, Groska invites community members to let their hair grow so that it can be donated to make wigs after being cut at the soon-to-be-scheduled Shears to Stop Tears hair-cutting event.
In the meantime, Groska welcomes cash donations to his Shears to Stop Tears organization.
“So many people have given so much to me, I feel this is one way I can give back – with the help of others, of course,” Groska said.
For further information about Shears to Stop Tears, e-mail Groska at [email protected] or find Shears to Stop Tears on Facebook.
Sue Austreng is at [email protected]