In kids cancer fight, ‘Brave the Shave’ is a cut above

More than 100 men, women and children took up the challenge to Brave the Shave last Saturday afternoon at Capt. Hiram’s at the sixth annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser. A trifecta of goodwill, the event raises funds for childhood cancer research, raises awareness, and is a statement to the children and families suffering from the debilitating disease that “we’ve got your back.”

Shavees gave new meaning to “leaving it all on the stage,” as their lovely locks were shorn by clipper-wielding, volunteer barbers who performed a symphony of sweet buzzing music, much to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd.

The message shavees sent to their pint-sized friends – bald is beautiful! For most, having one’s head shaved is a daunting undertaking. But for children with cancer, it’s just one of the many obstacles they must face during their fight against the frightening disease.

Although much has been accomplished since the 1950s when nearly all children diagnosed with cancer died, more children are still lost to cancer in the U.S. each year than any other disease. Alarmingly, one in 285 children is diagnosed with cancer before they reach the age of 20.

“When we first started with St. Baldrick’s a child was diagnosed every three minutes. Now a child is diagnosed every two minutes,” shared Missy Elward, event co-chair with Frank ‘Cookie’ Mannino. “There’s no money for pediatric cancer research. The American Cancer Society gives .01 percent to kids and only 4 percent of U.S. federal funding is dedicated to childhood cancer research.”

Brave the Shave and other St. Baldrick’s events around the country fund much-needed research grants and advocacy efforts.

“One in five loses the battle. Two out of those five suffer long-term side effects from the treatment, from the cancer or the cancer comes back. We need to save 100 percent of the kids, 20 percent is not enough,” stressed Elward.

The day was filled with emotion as parents shared their children’s touching stories; offering testimonials from some whose children were lost to cancer, others who are fighting the disease and even those now labeled NED (no evidence of disease).

Businesses, firefighters, civic organizations and individuals from all walks of life volunteered to brave the shave Saturday, in the process raising more than $100,000 to help fund childhood cancer research.

St. Baldrick’s has funded $234 million in research grant funding since 2005, all in an effort to fulfill its mission to find cures for childhood cancers and to give survivors long and healthy lives.

As 6-year-old cancer survivor Will Alvey succinctly summed it up, “I hate cancer. It hurts kids and I want to get rid of it.”

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Photos by: Stephanie LaBaff
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