BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) – As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. The town of Bennington, Vermont, doesn’t take that responsibility lightly. When one of their own was diagnosed with cancer, the commander of the VFW rallied the troops, and the town banded together to raise money for the two-year-old’s family.  

Finley Scanlon was recently diagnosed with a rare form of bladder cancer and has a long road ahead on her health journey. Her mother had to take leave from her teaching job, and her father is working to maintain their income in addition to paying medical bills.

The Commander of the Bennington VFW, Norman LeBlanc, heard about Finley from Lions Club President Matt Gras. The heads of the two organizations knew something had to be done to help the Scanlons.

“All little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. And when you look a the eyes of a child, as a parent, as a grandparent, we had to do something,” LeBlanc said.

Leblanc is a 24-year Veteran of the Navy Seabees who deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired as Senior Chief in 2012 and has been sporting a full beard ever since.

To gain traction and get the town excited about fundraising for Finley, Norm decided to “Brave the Shave.” It started with a $500 bet, but the effort snowballed into a whopping $55,000 raised from countless community efforts.

Norm said the people of Bennington rallied behind the mission in every way possible and it was a “we, not a me effort.”

Countless businesses and local clubs joined together for the event that culminated in a Spaghetti Dinner at VFW Post 1332. A local band offered their time during the fundraiser, and everything from the bathrooms to the food was donated.

“Almost every club or fraternal organization in our town was involved in this. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a poster with her face,” Norm said. “This is one of the first times that’s ever happened.” 

The Bennington Eagles, Bennington Elks Lodge No. 567, American Legion Post 13, Norshaft’s Lions, two Rotary Clubs, and many others are still committed to raising as much money as possible to help Finley and her parents, Robert and Sara Scanlon.

Those interested in donating to the Scanlon family can head to the Venmo link fundraiser or email Normand at normleblancnobenningtonhighway@comcast.net.

Finley’s parents sent a photo and a message to News10’s Stephanie Rivas to share in response to the Bennington community’s efforts.

“We are so thankful for every single person that has helped, donated, cared, and prayed for us since Finley’s diagnosis. No matter how many times or ways we say thank you to our community, it never feels like it’s enough. Every time we think about all the people that have come together to help Finley through this (most of whom are strangers), we are just in awe. The outpour of support from the fundraiser for Finley was absolutely amazing. We are so proud to be a part of such a caring community. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!”