She expected them to make fun of her. She was wrong.
Marlee watched as her teachers and peers stepped up to show their support for her, one by one. The look on her face says it all.
Last year, her mom noticed a bump on Marlee's left foot. After it didn't go away (Marlee played soccer, so it made sense that it might be a sports injury), Marlee's mom took her to the doctor, where they learned the scary truth: It was cancer.
Doctors amputated Marlee's foot, after which she began chemo, causing her to lose her hair. Even after all she'd been through, Marlee worried about how her teachers and classmates would react to seeing her without hair.
She was in for a pleasant surprise.
Not only did her teachers and classmates accept her, but several of them decided to shave their own heads in the name of solidarity — and charity.
After setting up an account with the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a group that helps raise money to fight childhood cancer through head-shaving events, Marlee's teachers and classmates hopped into action.
More than 80 of her classmates shaved their heads or donated hair, and in total, the school raised more than $25,000 in just two and a half weeks.
"I thought people would make fun of me, but people just supported me instead," she told the Broomfield Enterprise.
The outpouring of support was unexpected, touching, and just about everything you'd hope for in humanity.
Above all else, Marlee hoped to be able to help other kids with cancer, and in that, she succeeded. Big time.
When it comes to childhood cancer, there are some troubling statistics.
For example, did you know that the average age of diagnosis for childhood cancer is 6 years old? Or that about 40,000 children undergo cancer treatment each year? Or that the majority of childhood cancer survivors experience later effects like fertility, heart failure, and other forms of cancer? Or that just 4% of federal cancer research funds go toward studying pediatric cancer?
It's rough out there, and that's what makes the community outpouring of support for Marlee all the more heartwarming.
Marlee finished her last chemo treatment in February, but the love and support from her schoolmates will stick with her forever.
To learn more about Marlee's story, check out this article at the Broomfield Enterprise or watch the video below.