St. Baldrick’s event raises money for cancer research

Steven Barnum , News editor

Western Illinois University’s Tanner Hall hosted the 15th annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser Sunday.

The St. Baldrick’s organization encourages volunteer- based fundraisers to raise money for childhood cancer research. According to the group’s website, the charity organization offers more cancer research grants than any other organization other than the United States government.

One way that volunteers can participate in the fundraiser is to allow organizers to completely shave their heads. According to Amy Bielicki, it can be a rewarding experience to trade your hair for more cancer research funding.

“I was on the fence about it but I think that you just can’t be afraid to do it,” Bielicki said. “Even if you can’t or don’t want to shave your head, being supportive for the people who do is also important.”

About 30 volunteers chose to shave their heads during Sunday’s event and some participants were able to raise more than $500. Bielicki said that she knows a lot of people who have been diagnosed with cancer so being brave was the least that she could do.

“Everyone who has done this in the past showed to me that they are amazing people,” she said. “They definitely inspired me.” Another volunteer who shaved their head was Matthew Ward. Ward was an RA in Tanner Hall last year, which was when he first considered the possibility of shaving his head.

“I thought it was a really interesting program to do,” Ward said. “Even if you don’t raise a lot of money, people are going to notice the fact that you’re bald so you can explain to them that it’s about raising money for childhood cancer research.”

Ward said that when people participate and continue to spread awareness, it encourages more and more people to donate to the cause. When it comes to people who are hesitant to get rid of their hair, Ward said that he made the right choice.

“It’s a really interesting experience,” he said. “I used to be really nervous about having no hair but I would say go for it. It’s an experience that you will probably remember for the rest of your life.” For those who couldn’t make it to Sunday’s fundraiser, both Ward and Bielicki recommend visiting the St. Baldrick’s page online to donate. They also encourage those interested to share the link on social media.

“I think it’s very important for anyone to participate in causes like this,” Ward said. “It’s a great place to raise awareness and I’ve never trusted a charity more than St. Baldrick’s.” Jailyn Stevenson, complex director of the North Quad, said that people have been getting their heads shaved in Tanner Hall for years. The cap stone event even encouraged an assistant complex director in Thompson Hall to shave their head this year, raising $500.

With a fundraising goal of $10,000, the fundraiser collected more than $7,000 as of 3 p.m. Sunday. Stevenson said that the event always manages to raise at least $5,000, but it raised more than $12,000 a year ago.

“I think it’s definitely important to give back to people, especially when it goes to children with cancer,” Stevenson said. “I think that we should help as much as we can.”

Stevenson said that while this year’s event may not have had as many head shavings as it’s had in the past, she was still pleased with how many people attended to support the cause. She encourages members of the public to donate on the website, which will be collecting donations throughout the next two weeks.

In addition to St. Baldrick’s, Bielicki mentioned groups like the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life and Dance Marathon, which are all fundraising events that members of the Macomb community can find on campus.

“Be willing to help out other people as much as you can,” Bielicki said.