I’m going bald again this spring, quite willingly.
For the sixth consecutive March, I’ll join more than 400 others — men, women and children — at our local St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser for pediatric cancer research. Ten at a time, in front of a crowd, we get the clippers taken to us and emerge quite naked on top.
Every year someone tells me I’m brave to do this.
No. The brave ones are the kids I see at the academic medical center where I work, bald from chemotherapy, connected to IVs, literally fighting for their lives.
Each year, I honor a child from Central New York who is fighting cancer. Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of them to honor.
In 2012 and 2013, I honored Miss Sabella, a patient at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse. She’s still fighting leukemia. By the way, she’s barely 4 years old, so she’s been fighting cancer more than half her life.
This year I am honoring a lovely 17-month old girl, Arie, who was diagnosed with carcinoma around her first birthday. (Every three minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer.)
I have no misgivings about raising money for St. Baldrick’s, which is very transparent about its finances, issuing annual reports and publishing details on its website. The organization doles out millions of dollars to respected cancer researchers.
In the current political climate that doesn’t look kindly on research, private fundraising takes on added importance. And yes, it’s kind of personal. My first two St. Baldrick’s honorees, 19-year-old Matt and 11-year-old Wayne, both of them wonderful young men, didn’t make it. They are now, in pediatric cancer parlance, “angels.”
The St. Baldrick’s event in Syracuse has been hosted for a decade by David and Cindy Hoyne, owners of a classy Irish pub, Kitty Hoynes.
The Kitty Hoynes event is among the top St. Baldrick’s events in the country (No. 2 in 2013), raising more than $360,000 each of the past several years. The goal this year is about $380,000, in order to reach an even $3 million since the Hoynes got involved 10 years ago.
On March 30, this normally festive establishment takes on a somber — yet still hopeful — tone as we hear stories from moms and dads about their children who are fighting cancer, or who have lost the battle. There will be very few dry eyes, or hairy heads, in the house.
When a mom or dad gets up in front of a crowd and talk about losing their child to cancer … that’s bravery.
To donate to this worthy cause, visit the St. Baldrick’s or Kitty Hoynes sites on the links above, and look for the green Donate button. If you would prefer to join me in honoring 17-month-old Arie, you can donate on my fundraising page. These kids, and their families, thank you.