Going bald for kids

Raleigh News & ObserverFebruary 21, 2014 

  • About St. Baldrick’s

    The St. Baldrick’s Foundation has given money to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University Medical Center, the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and other hospitals that conduct research into childhood cancers. The foundation’s name is a combination of the name St. Patrick, and “bald,” since the first-ever event occurred on St. Patrick’s Day.

For the fifth year in a row, Clayton residents will say goodbye to their hair and hello to donations to childhood cancer research.

The head-shaving event will be at noon Saturday, March 22, at The Flipside, 408 E. Second St. in downtown Clayton. Put on by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity that raises money for childhood cancer research, the past events have raised more than $260,000 from more than 500 people willing to shave their heads.

And those numbers are just in Clayton. Since 2000, St. Baldrick’s has held head-shaving events in 46 states and 18 countries. It has donated more than $127 million to childhood cancer researchers, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University Medical Center.

So far this year, more than 100 people on 14 teams have signed up for head shavings in Clayton, according to organizer Rob Baker. Teams include one from the Clayton Fire Department, Clayton Police Department, Riverwood Elementary School and one for Kaela Bechtold, who is currently undergoing cancer treatments.

Teams set their own fundraising goal. Some pledge $100 from each participant, while others set the goal higher. Baker’s team, the “Grand Shavees,” agreed to raise $1,000 or shave an eyebrow “just to put a little pressure on each other,” he said. “It’s kind of fun.”

Also going under the shears are several female teachers at Riverwood Elementary School, where Bechtold and another student, Ryan Carasiti, are going through cancer treatments, Baker said.

Even people who didn’t raise money may shave their heads that Saturday if they want to, Baker said. “Anybody that wants to do it, we want them to be able to participate,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how much they can raise. It’s all about raising awareness, and the more money we raise, the better.”

Those going under the shears in past years have included Councilman Michael Grannis and his wife Betsy, Town Manager Steve Biggs, downtown development director Bruce Naegelen, Fire Chief Lee Barbee and Police Chief R.W. Bridges, Baker said.

Baker started the event in the fall of 2009, the same year his son Bo was diagnosed with cancer. Now a fifth-grader, Bo was 6 at the time.

On Feb. 13, the night before Valentine’s Day, Bo complained of a stomach ache and had blood in his urine.

“That had never happened,” Baker said. “It was all of a sudden.”

Concerned, the Bakers rushed Bo to WakeMed, where staff discovered a tumor on his right kidney. The doctor said it was “very treatable,” Baker said.

After seven radiation treatments, 15 chemotherapy treatments and the removal of his right kidney, Bo was cancer free. He can play baseball just fine, and “the kids on the team have no idea” that he ever had cancer, Baker said.

That summer, Baker’s nephew attended a St. Baldrick’s event elsewhere and shaved his head for Bo. The head-shave event Baker held in Clayton that fall raised $62,000.

“People have been very responsive to it, because everyone knows someone who’s had cancer,” Baker said.

Bo has shaved his head in the years since his cancer and this year has organized a team called “Kids for a Cure.”

“He loves doing it, and he likes being bald,” Baker said. He added that Princeton resident Xander Pond, 10, is currently fighting his second round with cancer and will be shaving his head on Bo’s team.

This year’s event will include a raffle and silent auction of footballs and basketballs signed by coaches from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C. State University and Duke University.

To participate in the head shave on March 22, go to www.sbaldricks.org/events/clayton2014 or call Baker at 919-235-8474. For more information about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, call 1-888-889-BALD or go to www.stbaldricks.org.


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