Saint Baldrick’s Festival in Richmond, VA
Shaving Our Heads to Raise Money for Childhood Cancer Research
(Click on the mosaic to enlarge, and click again to make it still larger.)
On March 21, 2004, my husband, Buddy, my son, Gene, and I all participated in the Saint Baldrick’s Richmond, VA, Church Hill Festival...an annual Saint Patrick’s Day event. Saint Baldrick’s is an organization founded to help find a cure for childhood cancers, and one of the ways they raise money is to have people get sponsors for having their heads shaved. I knew nothing of the organization until Gene called me one night and asked if Buddy and I would like to join him in this endeavor. We didn’t have to even think about it and immediately said we would. Years before I had taught a child who lived right down the road from us and had brain cancer. Being with her at school and being a friend of the family, I learned first hand what it is to have and love a child with this tragic disease. All I can say is it was an amazing, eye-opening experience. Not only did I have my head shaved, I also had them take off my eyebrows because when people go through chemotherapy, they lose their eyebrows as well as their hair.
Only when I was outside did I wear anything on my head. It was so cold I had to put on a skull cap or a baseball cap to survive. My niece gave me her chemo cap which had served her well through two horrible bouts with breast cancer, and I learned quickly why my bald headed father always wore at a cut off, knotted woman’s stocking on his head when he went to bed at night. I always thought this was an awfully odd habit, but I soon understood exactly why he did it. A bald head can get mighty cold at night.
I did not warn the students I was going to do this so Monday morning the kids got quite a shock. I thought they would either come up and ask me what had happened or at least politely say nothing. Instead, I got a rude awakening when I walked into the lunchroom. They laughed at me...and I crumbled and broke out into tears. I was horrified at their lack of feeling and concern. I realized, when I got over the immediate horror, they were probably so shocked to see me without any hair they just burst into laughter. At the time that never crossed my mind. I was just like any child who is faced with children laughing at him or her...devastated. That night when I had more time to think about the incident, I had a light bulb moment. What I had experienced was what so many children have to face on a daily basis when they do not have that “normal” look. I suddenly knew what bullying and mean children do to others because I had felt it myself.
This story does end happily. The 6th, 7th, and 8th graders all brought in money for me to give to Saint Baldrick’s. Some of them even brought large checks from their parents for the fund raiser. By the time I had to turn in my money, I’d collected over $1600.00 from the students at my middle school and had, at the same time, made them all more knowledgeable about childhood cancers and how to be kind and helpful to their fellow classmates who are ill or “different.”
Please be kind to one another and follow the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
“What we remember from our childhood we remember forever ~ permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, and eternally seen.”
~ Cynthia Ozeck
This post is linked to “Little Red House” sponsored by Mary Carroll. Stop by her site to see more Monday mosaics.