Going Bald for Kids

By: 
Kirt Ramirez
ST. BALDRICK'S hair-cutting event in Northern California.

It’s that time of the year when many go bald in honor of children going through cancer treatments.

Usually around St. Patrick’s Day, head-shaving events take place across the country to raise money for childhood cancer research through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The organization is second to the U.S. government in terms of being the biggest funder of childhood cancer research grants, according to StBaldricks.org.

The foundation’s motto is: “Conquer Childhood Cancers.”

“Long Beach Shaves for Kids” is doing its part to raise funds for St. Baldrick’s. Adults and children will “brave a shave for kids with cancer” while many others will forgo the buzz cut and simply give money or volunteer.

137 participants ranging from parents to children and firefighters to barbers have raised an impressive $29,518 as of March 16 from members of the public. The goal is $30,000, the group’s webpage at StBaldricks.org indicates.

Those willing to lose their hair are “shavees” and they can use the pending hair loss as a means to get family, friends and co-workers to donate to the cause.

Many others spread the word about the foundation and raise money without having their hair cut.

The public head-shaving rally will take place at Millikan High School from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, March 17.

Event organizer Michelle Scott got involved with the St. Baldrick’s fundraiser in 2008 when her daughter Kayleigh Scott was undergoing cancer treatments for synovial sarcoma, after being diagnosed in July 2007. Kayleigh succumbed to the illness in 2013 at age 16.

The child is one of three local “St. Baldrick’s Honored Kids” this year and her story appears in the Long Beach Shaves for Kids portion of the St. Baldrick’s website.

Another honored child, Austin Molina, was diagnosed with stage four rhabdomyosarcoma on July 29, 2015, two weeks before his 16th birthday. His physical life ended.

And third honored kid, Caleb B., 7, is in treatment for neuroblastoma after being diagnosed in October 2015.

Michelle Scott, who in 2010 took over the Long Beach event from the organizer who started it in 2001, Emily Lundi-Mallett, said all the money raised goes to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

“We’ve been doing this now for about 16 years in Long Beach,” Scott said. “We’ve raised about a million dollars in total in that time period for these head-shaving events for the foundation.”

Scott said after St. Baldrick’s receives the donations, the foundation then gives out grants to various children’s hospitals and research centers.

“The money that we are helping to raise here does stay in our local community because every year our local children’s hospitals receive grants from St. Baldrick’s specifically for cancer research,” she added.

Scott said St. Baldrick’s does not have a large overhead of marketing and salary expenses and that’s why she likes the organization and got involved.

“It is staying in the research field and it is helping our local hospitals with funding for the research that’s so desperately needed,” she said.

For the first two years the Long Beach Shaves for Kids event took place at Joe Jost’s. Then it moved to the parking lot of Tracy’s Bar and Grill; then to the campus of Cubberley Elementary School when Kayleigh was a student there.

After Kayleigh graduated from Cubberley and went to Millikan High School, the event followed her to that venue, her mother, Scott, said.

Scott said an average of 200 to 250 heads get shaved each year at the Long Beach event with one year topping at 300.

The fundraiser is unique in that kids get involved too.

“We are one of the largest that has children participating and actually getting their heads shaved,” she said. “In the past, about half of the shavees were kids under age 18 from high school down to kindergarten, shaving their heads in honor of other kids that have to go through cancer treatments.”

However, people do not have to get their heads shaved to support cancer research.

“The shaving part is just to show their support and solidarity for the kids that lose their hair because of cancer treatments,” Scott said.

A smaller Long Beach fundraiser also will take place but on Saturday, April 1. That head-shaving will be at the Red Leprechaun from noon to 4 p.m. That St. Baldrick’s event has a goal of reaching $1,000 with 11 participants raising money in the public. As of March 16, $1,287 was raised.

“I’ve had an immediate family member pass away of cancer and aside from that I’ve had friends also pass away due to cancer and I felt that sitting idle wasn’t doing anybody any good,” said organizer David Alaniz.

He said after researching various organizations, that St. Baldrick’s appealed to him the most.

In Alaniz’ first year, 2015, 15 heads were shaved with two female shavees. Last year 17 heads were shaved by two barbers outside the Irish pub at 4000 E. Anaheim St.

Red Leprechaun owner Tracy Ames said it’s wonderful to see the people give up their hair for a good cause.

“It’s amazing that they’re doing this,” she said.

Last year St. Baldrick’s made $38 million through 1,200 events and there are more than 900 registered events taking place this year, said Cristine Lovato, media and public relations manager for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

“Our funds are distributed throughout the year in the form of research grants,” she said. “Our applicants are evaluated by our scientific advisory committee, who selects the most promising research projects.”

To donate or to learn more, the public can visit www.StBaldricks.org/events and type “Long Beach” in the event search box or donate by phone by calling (888) 899-2253.

kirt@beachcomber.news

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