Bald is beau­ti­ful: St. Baldrick’s shaves heads to end pe­di­atric cancer

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: GIANNA DECARLO gde­carlo@ches­pub.com

The 9th An­nual Bal­ti­more He­roes St. Baldrick’s Event en­cour­ages you to shave to save lives.

The event, oc­cur­ring on Sun­day, March 19 at Martin’s East at 9000 Pu­laski High­way, dares peo­ple to go bald in order to raise money and aware­ness for those bat

tling pe­di­atric cancer and for those fight­ing for a cure.

Dan Jarkiewicz, the vol­un­teer co­or­di­na­tor for Bal­ti­more He­roes, said that it’s a way for peo­ple to show their sup­port and sol­i­dar­ity with the fam­i­lies who have al­ready gone through so much. “It’s some­thing that any

body, at any age, it can be a whole fam­ily, or a group of friends, or just one per­son, can come out and have a great time and leave feel­ing good and do­ing good. We are mak­ing changes,” he said.

The St. Baldrick’s Foun­da­tion funds more in child­hood cancer grants than any or­ga­ni­za­tion ex­cept for the U.S. gov­ern­ment. A good chunk of this life-sav­ing money is raised by these head-shav­ing

events, where peo­ple can spon­sor their own shavee or do­nate money to a team.

In fact, Bal­ti­more He­roes has re­cently achieved their long-term fundrais­ing goal which was rais­ing over $1,000,000 for child­hood cancer re­search dur­ing nine events.

“It’s for men, women, chil­dren, of all ages. We’ve had kids as young as two and we’ve had peo­ple in their 70s. Peo­ple get in­spired and say ‘If you raise 1000, we’ll shave our heads, or eye­brows’”.

The event last year had 167 shavees, over 1,000 in to­tal at­ten­dance, and raised over $167,000 for child­hood cancer re­search.

“World­wide, more than 160,000 chil­dren are di­ag­nosed with cancer each year, and it re­mains the lead­ing cause of death by dis­ease among chil­dren in the United States,” states a re­lease from the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The event will kick-off with an in­tro­duc­tion of the seven­teen hon­ored lo­cal chil­dren who have bat­tled cancer and a mon­tage video of the chil­dren say­ing thanks and talk­ing about how cancer treat­ments have saved their lives. These kids will shave the first heads of the event.

“The kids re­ally are the stars of the show. Peo­ple get to come in and see these kids and what we’re fight­ing for and who we’re try­ing to save and the kids get to see that we’re all there to sup­port them, that we’re with them ev­ery step of the way,” he said. “Every­body that I talk to say they leave there feel­ing full.”

Jarkiewicz has first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence with the pa­tients this pro­gram ad­vo­cates for. His daugh­ter had a rare blood dis­or­der and had to spend 10 months at Johns Hop­kins Hos­pi­tal for a blood trans­plant. Dur­ing that time, his fam­ily got to know other chil­dren that were go­ing through treat­ment, in­clud­ing some who didn’t make it.

“We do this for them and for the kids that are go­ing to have to fight and the kids that don’t make it,” he said.

Jarkiewicz said he wants the event to have a fam­i­lyfriendly and fun at­mos­phere. The cer­e­monies will in­clude face paint­ing, car­ni­val games, food, prize wheels, a pho­to­booth, and even a green hair dye spray­ing just in time to St. Patrick’s Day. There will also be a booth where you can en­list your­self on the bone mar

row reg­istry for free. The money raised goes di­rectly to med­i­cal re­search and or­ga­ni­za­tions that help fam­i­lies af­fected by cancer. St. Baldrick’s even has its own re­search board that is made up of doc­tors that read grant pro­pos­als from hos­pi­tals and see which ones they can help fund. Treat­ment for cancer sur­vivors, Jarkiewicz said, is an of­ten over­looked ex­pense. Pa­tients of­ten suf­fer long-term ef­fects from chemo­ther­apy or med­i­cal side ef­fects. Money also goes to­wards help­ing sur­vivors get back on their feet.

Even if you’re not will­ing to go bald, sup­port­ers are wel­comed to cheer on the sha

vees and mone­tary dona­tions are ac­cepted.

“It’s never too late to shave your head or sup­port some­one shav­ing their head. This is the best hope for these kids to be helped.”

To regis­ter for the event or to do­nate to the cause, visit www.stbaldricks.org/events/bmore­heroes2017.

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