Cancer is a disease that is fought at one time or another with a bald head as a side effect of chemotherapy. St. Baldrick’s is using a bald head to raise money for pediatric cancer research since the foundation began in 2004. On July 4 1999, John Bender, Tim Kenny and Enda McDonnell founded St. Baldricks after Bender got the idea when he looked at McDonnell’s hair. In 2004, the foundation was created with one priority in mind: spend as little as money as possible to raise every dollar and make sure every dollar raised goes to the best research to find cures for children fighting childhood cancer. The foundation is raising most of their money though shaving events called St. Baldrick’s Day.
The shaving events are held all over the world from New Orleans to Hawaii and have raised $34.3 million for pediatric cancer research last year. One of the largest shaving events that is held in Romeo, Michigan raised $350,000 during last year’s event. On March 15, over 500 people donated their time to have their heads shaved and about 18 to 24 barbers stepped up to shave during the four-hour event. Michael Fiscus who organized the shaving event said that even though participants lose their hair it is a small price to pay in comparison to what ill children have to go through.
The event had volunteers from the community as well as children who beat the disease. Fiscus said it is truly moving to watch the reaction on the children’s faces when they see that all of those people are willing to give up their hair in unity. He also says that the event has had children who beat cancer shave along with everyone else. Fiscus continues by saying as people see the whole community gather together to make the small sacrifice and be very focused on the assignment, he cannot help but be moved. Aside from raising money at shaving events such as the one in Romeo, the foundation stood up to support a young girl.
Kamryn Renfro, a nine-year old girl from Colorado, had her head shaved to show her solidarity for her friend Delaney Clements who is battling the disease and lost her hair after she started chemotherapy. When Renfro attended school, Caprock Academy, on Monday she was told she was breaking the school’s dress code and could not return unless she wore a wig. Catherine Norton Breman, the chair of the academy’s school board and president, said that the dress code was designed to promote uniformity, safety and an environment free of distractions for the school’s students. She says that under the policy shaved heads are not allowed.
Kenny said the story was absolutely ridiculous. Kenny continues by saying that the whole reason the foundation chose head shaving was to be in solidarity with children who are going through treatment. He said he cannot believe people can miss the point like that. Kathleen Ruddy, the CEO for St. Baldrick’s, said that the story can be seen as a teachable moment. Ruddy also said that the foundation believes bald is beautiful and they believe that Kamryn Renfro is beautiful for standing by her friend. She also says that childhood cancer is out of the bag and that it is a reality that people have to face that cancer is not going away anytime soon. Ruddy says that it is the right thing to do to celebrate children who are supporting their friends.
St. Baldrick’s is raising money for cancer research one bald head at a time by holding shaving events in areas such as Michigan. Bender, Kenny and McDonnell founded the fundraiser in 2004 after McDonnell’s hair sparked the idea. Kenny and Ruddy stood up for Renfro after she was suspended from school for shaving her head to support her friend. The school has allowed Renfro to attend school the next day and will be holding a board meeting that night to review the situation. In support of Renfro, the foundation is holding a shaving event on June 28.
By Jordan Bonte