Explaining St. Baldrick’s to someone completely unfamiliar with it can be somewhat awkward. Even the picture in this post with “grow it, shave it, beat it”, strange, right? Well, I hope this post can explain a little about what St. Baldricks’ is and what motivates me to be involved.
About St. Baldrick’s
Worldwide, over 175,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. In the United States, more children die of cancer than of any other disease. More than AIDS, cystic fibrosis and asthma.
These numbers are staggering and baffling. The only risk factor for childhood cancer is being a child.
St. Baldrick’s enters the fight funding only pediatric cancer research. St. Baldrick’s is the largest, private underwriter of pediatric cancer research in the world. Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has funded over $103 million in grants for pediatric cancer research with almost every single nickle coming from its volunteer driver head-shaving events.
Why head shaving?
This is where some people can lose us. If you read on, I promise you that you’ll see what this is all about. The story begins in July of 1999. The first St. Baldrick’s event takes place in 2000 with 17 “shavees” hoping to raise $17,000. 19 people end up participating and over $100,000 is raised for pediatric cancer research. St. Baldrick’s is born. But what’s up with the head shaving?
(Pat Apoian shaving my head in 2012. Photo courtesy of S. Wainright)
Cancer does not discriminate. Young people, even infants will lose their hair. Imagine a young girl of 5 years old with no hair. That’s what cancer does. The initial thought at that first St. Baldrick’s event was for participants to make a sacrifice and stand in the shoes of the brave boys and girls who battle cancer everyday. This is how the head shaving came to be the center piece of St. Baldrick’s.
A shavee commits to raise a certain amount. They solicit donations from their friends, family, coworkers and more. On event day, they have their head shaved. The symbolism is powerful. When shavees return to work following the event, they are bald. People will certainly talk and ask why. This is where the opportunity to discuss the urgency for pediatric cancer research arises. With a shaved head, shavees are walking billboards for St. Baldrick’s.
This is my fifth year doing St. Baldrick’s. I first learned of the organization in 2007-2008 at the old Loafing Leprechaun in Duluth, GA. My participation began in 2009 when I was involved in the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Meehan’s Public House in Sandy Springs. (A lot of St. Baldrick’s events take place at Irish pubs, but there’s no rule about holding them elsewhere!)
I met Suzie Ruddle, the St. Baldrick’s event organizer for the Meehan’s party. I immediately caught Suzie’s passion for this cause and have been involved ever since. I think the first year I did it we had only a handful of shavees and still raised several thousand dollars for St. Baldrick’s. Last year we had over 60 people shave their heads (that takes some time to do, I’ll have you know), and we raised over $90,000!
What drew me to St. Baldricks’ was Suzie’s passion, selflessness and commitment to kids with cancer. What keeps me coming back is everyone involved in the event. Our group does some amazing things. We all work together. Whether a shavee, donor, volunteer or barber, sponsor, everyone brings their own talent and energy to the event. It is team work at its best. No egos. It’s just spectacular to be a part of something like this. And to think that there are thousands of events like this one going on all over the country and around the world! If you’ve been considering getting active in a charity - whether you’re willing to shave your head or not, consider St. Baldrick’s. You’ll meet some fantastic people and have a blast in the fight against kids’ cancer. The best thing about St. Baldrick’s is the people.
If you want to support my St. Baldrick’s effort this year, donate here: http://owl.li/hZaAV
Our event takes place Saturday, March 9th, 2013 at Meehan’s Public House in Sandy Springs, GA
For more, follow me on twitter: @richsullivan
Rich Sullivan is a former Atlanta radio personality, recently with 92.9 dave fm.
"Sully" is looking to make the jump to social media, PR and communications.
Follow him on twitter @richsullivan