Bald for a cause: On St. Baldrick's Day, students seek to raise funds for pediatric cancer research

Bald for a cause: On St. Baldrick's Day, students seek to raise funds for pediatric cancer research

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During St. Baldrick's Day, Rowan students who have reached their fundraising goals through support from donors will line up in the Pit of the Chamberlain Student Center on Tuesday, March, 22, to have their heads shaved to benefit pediatric cancer research.

It's been almost a year since Ethan Bobo has had a haircut.

But on Tuesday, March 22, Bobo and 30 other Rowan participants will "go bald" publicly as they team up to raise $10,000 to benefit pediatric cancer research.

During the event--known as St. Baldrick's Day--Rowan students who have reached their fundraising goals through support from donors will line up in the Pit of the Chamberlain Student Center. There, hairdressers who have donated their time to the event will shear each participant's head. The event runs from 9-11 p.m.

The "balding" ceremony will pay tribute to kids who have lost their hair through grueling cancer treatments. But for Bobo, a freshman secondary education and math major from Erma, seeing his brown curly locks fall to the ground has virtually become a rite of spring.

This time last year, Bobo and his fellow classmates at Lower Cape May (LCM) Regional High School raised $11,000 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. He's been growing his hair ever since.

When he enrolled at Rowan, Bobo asked the Student University Programmers (SUP) to support a St. Baldrick's Day event. SUP embraced the idea immediately, he says.

"AT LCM, I saw 20 people shave their heads for little kids," says Bobo, whose fundraising goal tops the list of shavees at $800 (he's raised $920 so far). "It was something that brought everyone in the school together. It was very cool.

"I need a haircut very badly. Hopefully, once I get one, the breeze won't be too cold on my head."

Senior Lauren Thompson isn't worried about that.

"I keep joking that I might blind people," laughs the secondary education and English major from Tabernacle, who has raised $535 of her $750 goal thus far.

Last fall, Thompson lost her mom to kidney cancer. She's preparing to shave her blonde, shoulder-length locks in a tribute to her mother, who also was a teacher.

"If my mother was alive, she'd yell at me, definitely, because she loved my hair," says Thompson, vice president of SUP. "I think doing this--giving back--is going to help me heal.

"I'll have little curly cues by graduation day," Thompson jokes. "But raising funds to help cure kids with cancer is more important than any hair on my head."

Danielle Watson, a freshman elementary education and Spanish major from Cherry Hill, already has surpassed her $495 goal and is gearing up to shave off her shoulder-length brown hair alongside Thompson.

While most of the shavees are students, one professional staff member, Constantine Alexakos, assistant director of student activities, has signed on to join the cause. Alexakos, who already has reached his $500 fundraising goal, says St. Baldrick's Day has been a big hit with students.

"We actually had people outside of the Rowan community trying to sign up," Alexakos says.

To support students in their efforts or for more information, visit www.stbaldricks.org/events/rowan2011.

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