50 sheriff's deputies shave heads to support colleague with leukemia

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/ Source: TODAY
By Alexandra Zaslow

Deputies at the Cattaraugus County Sheriff Department are bringing a whole new meaning to the term "loyal colleague."

Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb visited Undersheriff Bill Nichols, who has been battling leukemia for over 5 years, at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Cattaraugus County, New York, on Aug. 9.

"In the 26 years I've worked with him, I've never seen him like this," Whitcomb told TODAY.com. "I wish I could swap bodies with him for a week or just do anything to help him."

He decided that if he can't make him healthier, he could certainly make him feel less alone, so he asked his wife to shave his head.

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The following morning he sent out a memo to the office.

"As you are all aware Undersheriff William Nichols is currently at Roswell Park Hospital recovering from a bone marrow transplant he received on June 10, 2015," Whitcomb wrote. "In the spirit of our law enforcement family, you are all welcome to stop and see Teresa Navarre and pick up a “Nichols Strong” bracelet and make a donation that is appropriate for your budget. All donation money raised will then be given to Roswell Park Hospital in Undersheriff William Nichols name."

He went on to say, "In addition we are inviting any sheriff’s office employee to express his/her commitment of support to Bill by shaving their head."

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The next day, one guy came into work with a shaved head and nine people followed suit on Wednesday. By Thursday, 50 of Nichols' colleagues, including two women, shaved their head in his honor and so the group took a photo which Whitcomb then printed out for to Nichols.

TODAY
Courtesy of Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb

When Whitcomb showed Nichols the photo, he looked up at him and said, "Part of my job is to discipline employees when they screw up, but how am I supposed to discipline any of these people?"

"We go into bad situations every day together and do everything we can to fix it," Whitcomb said. "It's difficult to not be able to do anything but pray and show him that we're in it together."

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