A Woonona girl has inspired dozens of people to raise money for leukaemia research, with children and adults shaving and colouring their hair in her name.
Charli Gerrey, 10, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia last May.
"It's been a massive rollercoaster since then," her mum Faye said.
The World's Greatest Shave team formed in Charli's name had raised more than $55,600 for the Leukaemia Foundation as of Thursday evening, making it the top fundraising team in the country.
Next Saturday, March 13 the team, Shine Like Charli, will gather at the Woonona Bulli RSL to shave and colour their hair and join in fun activities.
Among them is Charli's school friend Maddie Saywell, also 10, who will lop off her long locks in support of her mate.
The pair have known each other since they were in kindergarten.
"[Charli] didn't really get a choice to get leukaemia, but I had a choice to shave my head and raise lots of money, so I'd rather choose that," Maddie said of her decision to join the shave.
While many children would be nervous at the prospect of cutting off all their hair, Maddie said she was feeling really good because it was going to help Charli and others with leukaemia.
"I would like Charli to know that she's not in this alone," she said.
In the time since Charli was diagnosed, she has spent a lot of time in hospital, both in Wollongong and at the Sydney Children's Hospital.
She has spent three months in a wheelchair, suffers liver complications, and receives lots of chemotherapy.
But despite all the challenges Charli had faced, Mrs Gerrey said she was "extremely positive" and resilient.
"She just keeps trucking on," Ms Gerrey said, adding children were "way more brave and courageous than most adults would be".
She said Charli was humble about the lengths people were going to in her honour.
"She's always surprised that people are doing so much for her," Mrs Gerrey said. Seeing all the love and support from the community, Mrs Gerrey said, provided an "enormous uplift" for the family.
Charli also finds comfort in her 'Beads of Courage', an initiative of Camp Quality that sees children going through cancer treatment given a new bead for every treatment they undergo and milestone they reach.
Mrs Gerrey said the beads were a simple concept, but something that had a big impact.
"It's a way for her to look and see all she's been through to get to this point," she said.
Blood cancer is the most commonly diagnosed childhood cancer in Australia, and its prevalence among children is rising.
Overall, in the past decade, there has been a 30 per cent increase in the incidence of blood cancers.
Blood cancers account for the second-highest number of cancer-related deaths in Australia, and are the second-most commonly diagnosed type of cancer.
Money raised through the World's Greatest Shave go to the Leukaemia Foundation - which experienced a shortfall in donations because of the pandemic - to provide support to patients and their families, and to fund research.
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