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FGCU Bald Eagles shaved to save lives

FGCU students recently rallied together to show their support for children diagnosed with cancer, but perhaps not in a way that someone would expect – by completely shaving their heads.

FGCU held a St. Baldrick’s Day event Wednesday.

According to the St. Baldrick’s foundation, a child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes, and one in five children with cancer do not survive. Currently, only 4% of U.S. federal funding is used toward childhood cancer research, making St. Baldrick’s purpose even more necessary.

This St. Baldrick’s event was initiated five years ago by Claire and Catherine Gorman – who presently work as the coordinators of undergraduate studies ­– as a project for their Civic Engagement class, and it has been a recurring event ever since.

Catherine Gorman could be heard throughout the day, engaging with random students and faculty while encouraging them to shave their heads and/or their beards – or donate whatever change they had.

“We try to do it in a fun way that is exciting, by having volunteers and participants agree to get their head shaved and be sponsored in order to raise the awareness and the funding,” Gorman said. “Today, we had over 150 shavees who came out and got their head shaved for the cause.”

As each student prepared to be shaved, they were asked to explain why they made this tough decision. Most students said they believed in St. Baldrick’s cause, while others said they were encouraged by their friends.

For some students like Thomas Lindsey, however, the decision to go bald was quite personal.

“My mother had cancer – she’s still alive, so don’t worry about that!” said Lindsey, laughing. “I used to grow out my hair really long and then cut it off and donate it. It was pretty much on a whim – I just got out of a class, and I was like, I got an hour left, sure, why not?”

The Jimmy John’s off of Alico Road offered free food to supporters. Stylists from Zervos Salon in Fort Myers shaved the participants. Both companies had returned as sponsors for the fifth year in a row to support FGCU and St. Baldrick’s.

Other sponsors included the Terrence Michael Salon, EaglesConnect, Gorman’s Auto Service and Tire Center and Celtic Spirit: School of Irish Dance.

“Each year since – I think it was 3 years ago – we’ve shaved over 200 heads,” said Karen Muhl, who worked as the lead student coordinator for the event. “It’s been a really big event on campus; it’s definitely getting a lot more attention every year, and the campus is more excited every year to get involved.”

The total amount of funds that were raised for St. Baldrick’s has yet to be finalized, but as of 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, 12 teams and 163 participants raised $11,826 for St. Baldrick’s. This amount represents the money the teams and individuals raised prior to the event, and it doesn’t include the donations that had been collected during the day, which were estimated to be over $2,000. The university’s ultimate goal was to raise $15,000.

FGCU student Rachel Goldenberg was the top contributor to FGCU’s cause, having raised $1,772. Professor Kristoph Kinzli came in second with $1,105, and Billy Gunnels followed close behind with $780 in donations.

The top team was the FGCU Honors Program with $1,562. Faculty members representing Undergraduate Studies managed to raise $1,395. Kappa Alpha Order came in third, with $824; they raised the most money out of all of the fraternities and sororities.

Even though the event has concluded, anyone can still donate to St. Baldrick’s and support FGCU by going to www.stbaldricks.org and typing ‘FGCU’ in the search box.

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