Andrea Verdone Gorsegner and Hannah Gorsegner had a surprising mother-daughter outing last month that resulted in matching buzzcuts.
The mother of two, 40, coordinated and participated in a community head-shaving event to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer called “Shave a Hero, Save a Hero” in Middleton, New Jersey.
At the July 29 gathering, Verdone Gorsegner and her eldest daughter Hannah, 10, sat down in barber shop chairs ready to buzz their heads, as hundreds of Middleton residents cheered them on.
“I chose to shave my head and had the power to make the decision,” Verdone Gorsegner tells PEOPLE. “But I still have my lashes, I still have my eyebrows, and more importantly, I have my health. Kids with cancer have no choice but to lose every stitch of hair on their bodies, including their little lashes and eyebrows.
“These kids are the true heroes.”
And the mother-daughter duo was inspired to go bald for a very important reason.
In August 2012, Verdone Gorsegner’s younger daughter Natalie, 7, was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
“It was just pure shock, because you never think it’ll happen to your kid,” she says. “It completely changed our perspective on life.”
While her daughter was going through rigorous cancer treatments, Verdone Gorsegner set up a nonprofit called Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer to raise money for research.
Currently in remission, Natalie watched with glee as her mom and her big sister got buzzed for a good cause — proceeds from the heartwarming event raised $45,000 for Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer.
At one point, Verdone Gorsegner even let her daughter hold the clippers.
“I really think it was really nice of my mom and sister,” Natalie tells PEOPLE. “I love them.”
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The money raised will fund cancer research at a medical institution picked by a medical advisory board.
“I have to say its a true miracle that we all are a part of this fun thing we created,” firefighter John Waltz, one of 80 other Middleton residents to shave their heads, tells PEOPLE. “It’s work and a work in progress but the reward of seeing the support and outpouring of people humbled me and I am honored to call Andrea my friend.
“We could save some little heroes fighting cancer.”
Verdone Gorsegner says the event was inspired by her daughter’s close friend, Mia McCaffrey, who died at the age of 7, after being diagnosed with parameningeal rhabdomyosarcoma.
Before she died, Mia starred alongside Hannah and Natalie in a music video for “Fighter” by Taylor Tote to promote childhood cancer research.
“She was so strong,” she says. “It’s time to come together to help these inspiring, brave kids.
“Cancer has nothing on us.”