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St. Baldricks campaign inspires head-shaving to help kids with cancer
What, you've never heard of Saint Baldrick? That great Irish hero of child cancer sufferers who inspires kids, teens & adults nationwide to go bald for charity every St. Patrick's Day? Maybe he was never officially canonized ;) -- but that doesn't make St Baldrick any less inspirational.
I first learned of this campaign while researching stories for my Kids Helping Kids blog. I featured a group of high schoolers from Palm Beach, Fla., who shaved their heads for St Baldrick's Day and raised over $75,000 in pledges from friends and family, turning funds over to the St. Baldrick's Foundation to support childhood cancer research. The next week, I read in our local paper that a nearby middle school had joined in the festivities, yielding a couple dozen bald 12- and 13-year-olds. Hair can seem like a big deal in adolescence, so the stories impressed me, and I wanted to learn more.
How does St Baldricks work?
The St. Baldrick's Foundation, a Better Business Bureau accredited charity, runs this campaign in a fairly sophisticated way from its website. Through the charity's site, anyone interested in a Saint Baldrick head shave, or in volunteering at a shaving event to make sure it runs smoothly, can find a St Baldrick event location or (if none are nearby) start a St Baldrick event in their school, town, workplace, etc. Once signed up, participants raise pledges from friends and family, just as they would for a charity walk- or bike-a-thon, danceoff, etc. Pledges can be logged on the charity's website, as can before & after photos for those loved ones who might not be able to see the results in person. St Baldrick participants can also find powerful inspiration in the stories and photos of child cancer patients.
How did St Baldrick come about?
In 1999, three Irish-American businesspeople in NYC decided to turn their St. Pat's party into a fundraiser for childhood cancer research, shaving their heads to show solidarity with children undergoing chemotherapy. The effort caught on and went nationwide within just a few years and is now the world's largest childhood cancer research fundraising event. With the total number of St Baldrick baldies closing in on 200,000, St Baldricks has raised more than $118,000 million for life-saving research. It all shows what just one great, creative idea can do for the world.
Would you shave your head to help kids with cancer?
Facts on Childhood Cancer
> Although relatively rare, striking 1 to 2 of every 10,000 children in the U.S., cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among 1- to 14-year-olds.
> Causes of childhood cancer are still largely unknown, although researchers are hard at work on identifying possible genetic and environmental links.
> Among the 12 major types of childhood cancers, more than half of new cases are cancers of the blood (leukemias), brain and central nervous system.
> Advances in treatment have significantly improved survival rates over the past several decades.
(source: National Cancer Institute)