When he was just 10 years old, Jack Skowronnek read a book that would change his life forever.
That book,“Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie” by Jordan Sonnenblick, told the story of 4-year-old Jeffery and his diagnosis and treatment of leukemia. It also revealed the financial hardships and social impact that his condition had on his family and the community.
Skowronnek was so inspired by this book that he created Jack’s Chattanoggins, an annual head shaving event that promotes awareness of children who are battling cancer and helps raise funds for the Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga.
In three years, at least 300 volunteers have shaved their heads, raising nearly $100,000.
Last week, Skowronnek was recognized as a Global Teen Leader as a part of the Three Dot Dash initiative of the We Are Family Foundation. The initiative was designed to support the efforts of teenagers around the world who are pursuing projects that promote a more peaceful society by addressing issues related to basic human needs.
As a part of the award, Three Dot Dash will offer a year-round leadership and mentoring program to the Global Teen recipients. Skowronnek will be assigned a mentor, who he hopes will help take Jack’s Chattanoggins to the next level.
“Really, my plan is to get this thing as big as it can to be,” Skowronnek said. “I really want to get it out of Chattanooga. Statewide would be really cool; national would be amazing. I just want it to keep getting bigger and bigger.”
As for the award, Skowronnek said he was flattered and humbled to be named a Global Teen Leader.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for about five years now, so I have a lot of experience, but I’ve never really been recognized for being a Global Teen Leader. Just reading about all these kids around the world doing stuff, it makes me really honored to be a part of making a difference.”
Skowronnek will attend the Just Peace Summit in New York City in April. There, he’ll present his program to other teens and share his experiences.
His advice to other teens:
“Don’t really let society tell you how to act and how to be as a teenager,” he said. “If I really let my friends influence me, I probably wouldn’t be shaving my head, and I wouldn’t have started this foundation. So don’t let society tell you what to do.”
The next Jack’s Chattanoggins shaving event will be at the Chattanooga Market June 1. This will be the fourth year that Jack is teaming up with Children’s Hospital Foundation at Erlanger.