For a child suffering with cancer, waking up to find that they’ve gone bald is a nightmare, but for faculty and staff at FGCU, going bald takes on a whole new meaning.
St. Baldrick’s Day, a volunteer-driven event, was started by sisters Claire and Catherine Gorman as part of their civic engagement project, and this year it will be celebrating its sixth year.
Nora Johnson, chair of community outreach, remembers seeing people get their heads shaved on St. Baldrick’s Day at FGCU, and she said that the experience was something she would never forget.
This year, the event strives to do things a little bit differently.
With the help of members Michael Tolvo as media manager and Carolyn Keinath who heads tabling on-and-off campus, St. Baldrick’s Day hopes to extend to the Fort Myers community.
“We’re hoping for members of the community to come out, as well as families who have had a child battle with childhood cancer,” said Karen Muhl, the Lead Student Coordinator at FGCU.
According to Johnson, the organization has been tabling at Publix, and has gained the support of the Estero Fire District who will be joining in the festivities at the event.
“Historically, it [St.Baldrick’s Day] has been a big event on campus, so this is our big push to get the community involved,” Johnson said. “We are also pushing to bring awareness to childhood cancer.”
Statistically, both ladies explain that, despite technological advances, a lot of the advances that have been made are helping more adults than children.
“You hear on the news about the money going to research, but a lot of that goes to adults,” Johnson said. “The statistics have actually changed. Every two minutes, a child dies, and it gives me goosebumps just saying that.”
According to the St. Baldrick’s website, a child does die from cancer every two minutes, as opposed to last year, when the number was a little bit higher.
Johnson and Muhl explain that this statistic is surprising and disheartening, but it’s a factor that keeps a lot of people coming back to show their support and help out in any way they can.
“The stats are powerful,” Muhl said, but there is hope. She said that $15,000 was raised in previous years, and, according to Johnson, they are ready to keep pushing their goal.
All of the money raised from the event goes toward research and to people suffering from childhood cancer like Rachel Goldenburg, who suffered from cancer in high school, has since been in remission and is cancer free.
Goldenburg, who has helped raise more than $1,300 to help give back to the foundation that helped her, is one of many guests expected to attend the event.
Barbers from Zervos salon and volunteers from the Paul Mitchell beauty school of Fort Myers will also be in attendance to offer number two buzz cuts to participants – a cut that’s all or nothing.
“It’s a full shave or no shave,” Muhl said with a laugh.
Even if FGCU students cannot donate or don’t want to shave their heads to support the St. Baldrick’s Day event, they are still urged to come out and show support.
“Stop by and say hi, see what we are all about,” Muhl said.
St. Baldrick’s Day is on Nov. 3 at the Veteran’s Pavilion from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.