When Beau Lacey, co-treasurer of the St. Baldrick’s event and SUNY New Paltz rugby alumnus met a young girl who was suffering with leukemia at a winter job, he wanted to help the cause of finding a cure for pediatric cancer research.
The Men’s rugby team along with other on-campus organizations raised over $8,100 in their third consecutive head-shaving event to benefit childhood cancer. The team took part in the event this year in the little girl’s honor, Lacey said.
This was the first year other groups such as the Kappa Sigma fraternity and international students participated. The New Paltz Dance Team sponsored those willing to get their heads shaved.
Over 57 shavees and donors combined sported green smocks to help the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, on Tuesday, March 31. Money is raised by sponsoring a shavee on the foundation’s website to promote donations. Donations of any kind without participating in head-shaving are accepted.
In the three years, the event held by the Men’s rugby team, has raised over $15,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity that is committed to funding research for finding cures for childhood cancers and supporting survivors, while encouraging participants to shave their hair. They are the largest volunteer-driven fundraising opportunity benefiting pediatric cancer research, according to their website.
Chris Lynch, fourth-year secondary education major and event coordinator/team member said the Men’s rugby team wanted to become more involved with charity to prevent childhood cancer. The Men’s rugby team welcomed a first-year player who had cancer during his childhood. For their efforts to raise money, the Men’s rugby team was awarded the title of “Most Charitable Club Sport” at a club sports meeting last spring.
“It’s honestly the one thing that really keeps us centered every spring,” Lynch said. “Being the group that is responsible for raising thousands of dollars is an incredible experience.”
As an aspiring high school history teacher, Lynch said he wants to do as much as possible to prevent cancer from keeping young students from class.
“The specific amount doesn’t matter to us personally,” Lynch said. “As long as we’re helping fight cancer and helping to save kids lives is the end goal. The more money raised the better.”
The foundation’s website said one in 285 children in the United States will have cancer before they turn 20 years old. Worldwide, 175,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. In the United States, more children die of childhood cancer than any other disease, according to the foundation’s website.
Mark Avona, a third-year double-major in accounting and finance and member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, helped his brothers join the cause.
“Childhood cancer hits home for some people close to us,” Avona said. “We want to do anything we can to help out.”
The foundation was founded in 1999 by three colleagues in the reinsurance industry. They hosted the first head-shaving event on March 17, 2000 and raised $104,000 for the Children’s Oncology Group. As of 2015, 502,931 participants have chipped in and $154,552,703 in research grants have been raised since opening day, according to the foundation’s website.
Sean McCarthy, fourth-year psychology major and Men’s rugby team member has participated as a shavee for all three years and said the experience was a humbling one.
“It makes you realize that this is something that kids with cancer have to deal with a lot,” he said. “This is just one haircut for me. It makes me realize the troubles that they go through.”