When Ben Hedblom was a freshman at Land O'Lakes High School in Tampa Bay, Florida, he made a bet with his teacher that he would wear the same pair of Nike Shox sneakers until he graduated. The loser would have to shave his head and eyebrows.
Now four years later, Ben has won that challenge. What started as a silly bet, has turned into a meaningful journey for the popular captain of the school's football team: "It made me think less of what other people think of me. And it made me approach them and talk to them. And they got to know me as a person. That goes way past the physical experience," said the 17-year-old to the St. Petersburg Times.
He turned the experience into his senior thesis, focusing on the perceptions that people had when they saw his tattered shoes. Classmates didn't understand. Strangers at McDonald's offered to buy him new shoes. People thought he was poor. "I've learned a lot about self image. You are what you believe you are."
As for the bet? Well, that teacher no longer teaches at the high school, but has been informed of his loss. Whether he will follow through with the hair removal remains unknown. There is one sure thing though: don't bet against Hedblom. You'll lose.