It all started with a poster at a Starbucks, 8 years ago on my morning commute: a father and son, both bald.
Cancer had taken the boy's hair, and the dad followed suit to show his support -- the stirring image was sponsored by St. Baldrick's, an organization devoted to raising awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.
I have no direct connection to childhood cancer, but as a parent of two healthy sons, it made me think for the first time how lucky I was. I thought about that image, and my sons, all day long. My son Coda, who was 4 years old at the time, liked having his head shaved. When I got home that evening, I told him about the poster and asked him if he wanted to help sick kids. His 5 year old brother was listening. They both agreed and we have been involved with St. Baldrick’s ever since.
Worldwide, 175,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. In the U.S., more children die of childhood cancer than any other disease — more than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies and diabetes combined.
A St. Baldrick’s event is a local gathering of “shavee” teams and their friends and family. "Shavees" are registered fundraisers who ask friends and family to "donate on their heads" (ask for donation based on the fact they will shave their head). At the event, they turn in their money and get their heads shaved in solidarity with the kids who are battling cancer.
Eight years ago, I was just a member of the audience. For the past 3 years, I have become the VEO (volunteer event organizer) for the 3rd largest St. Baldrick’s event in Texas.
Click images to enlarge
San Antonio’s next signature head-shaving, family-friendly event will be on Saturday, March 14, 2015, at World of Beer--Stone Oak. This is where you mark your calendar!
My hope is that the event will have greater participation from UTSA this year. We've had great participation in years past from the San Antonio Fire Department, UTHSCSA medical students, but we'd really love to increase participation from the UTSA community. There's such great potential here! It’s just a matter of getting the word out. We'd love to see teams from UTSA staff, Greek life, FTK, the Pre-Med Society, ROTC, athletics, and other student organizations rally behind this cause.
Although the cause is very serious, our events are incredibly fun! There’s nothing else like it. It’s such an emotional day filled with tears of laughter and sadness. All of the shavees have unique stories about why they are involved. Some are parents who’ve lost their children to cancer. Some are family friends. Some are cancer survivors themselves. Some are doctors, nurses, and medical students who know that we need to do more to fund a cure. Some are citizens in the community with no direct connection to childhood cancer, but who just want to help.
“We look forward to the St. Baldrick’s—San Antonio event every year. It’s really great to see our diverse community come together for such an important cause. As a parent myself, I want to support the efforts of childhood cancer research.”
— Dr. Michael Jennings, Associate Professor, COEHD
People often ask, “Do I have to shave my head to get involved?” No, there are many other ways UTSA staff, faculty and students can help, including:
But ultimately, yes, we would love to see you participate at our event as an individual, or with a team. To sign up as a "shavee" and/or volunteer, visit the St. Baldrick's--San Antonio event page.
Just by taking the time to read this article, you have helped us accomplish our mission of raising awareness for St. Baldrick's--San Antonio. Thank you, UTSA!
Athletics Certification Specialist,
Office of the Registrar