What began as a challenge between friends back in 2000 has grown into the world’s largest volunteer-driven and donor-centered fundraising program for childhood cancer research. Supporters shave their hair to stand in solidarity with kids with cancer and raise money to support lifesaving childhood cancer research.
Local supporters of St. Baldrick’s gather pledges to raise money for shaving their heads at a large event at The Avenue Viera that coincides with the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. “Shavees” sign up to shave in solidarity with children battling cancer.
“Last year support for the local organization put it on the map nationally within the organization,” said Garrett Lamp, volunteer event organizer. “Out of over 3,500 events held worldwide, the Space Coast’s event at The Avenue Viera ranked ninth in total dollars raised at $266,691.” In one afternoon last year over 400 heads were shaved bald.
Not only was it a great year locally, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation as a whole raised $34 million, helping it fund over $127,543,680 in childhood cancer research grants since 2005. “We are still the number one volunteer driven funding effort spending more on childhood cancer research grants than anyone with exception to the U.S. government,” Garrett said.
Sadly, one in five children diagnosed with cancer will lose their battle, only four cents of every dollar spent on all of cancer research is spent on pediatric cancer and two out of three children who survive will suffer from long-term effects of their treatment.
To date, 267 local shavees signed up to shave in solidarity with children battling cancer. “We have also set another goal, a ‘five year’ goal for us here in Brevard County,” Garrett said. “One million dollars raised by Space Coast St. Baldrick’s Foundation supporters, participants and community partners to fund the cure to childhood cancer.”
Jim Torpey, a two time shavee and a member of Team General Electric in Melbourne has set a personal goal this year of $5,000. He expects to continue to raise money even after the event.
“The funniest thing is that some people don’t recognize you at first after you’ve had your head shaved,” he said. “Also, I got several contributions after the event, when people asked ‘What happened to you?’”
The BIG Shave at The Avenue Viera will take place on Saturday March 15, from 1 p.m. until the last head is shaved. This event is the backbone of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. “We expect to shave over 450 heads but would like to reach 480 representing one for each child that is diagnosed with cancer each and every day. Last year brought in an estimated 6,500-7,000 attendees and we are sure this number will grow this year.”
The Big Shave
If the bald look isn’t your thing, you can “Pack the Park” to support St. Baldrick’s with the Brevard County Manatees on July 5. This event is meant to bring awareness to childhood cancer and The St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The “Honored Kids” participate in the Field of Dreams, Homerun of a Lifetime and more.