Happy St. Baldrick's Day!
Students shave heads, raise $13,500 for pediatric cancer research.
Sabrina LoBue held Lauren Thompson’s hand as Thompson’s blonde, curly hair fell like snowflakes around their feet. It takes real guts, LoBue thought, to go bald.
“Standing up there, holding Lauren’s hand, I got chills,” LoBue says of the bravery and commitment Thompson displayed as she participated in St. Baldrick’s Day, a mass head-shaving event by Rowan students that raised a whopping $13,554.03 for pediatric cancer research.
Altogether, 31 “shavees”--29 students, one adjunct professor and one professional staff member--underwent electric razors to go completely bald as they raised funds for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Freshman elementary education and Spanish major Danielle Watson was the only other female to brave the public “balding” alongside Thompson.
Watson, of Cherry Hill, shaved her head to raise funds and pay tribute to an elementary school classmate who survived cancer. Thompson, a senior English and secondary education major from Tabernacle, did so to honor the memory of her single mom, Arlene, who passed away from kidney cancer just four months ago.
“For Lauren and Danielle to get up there and put charity before vanity was so impressive,” says LoBue, director of special events for SUP. “It was crazy to see how devoted and brave they—and all of our ‘shavees’—were for this event and cause.”
SUP organizers thought they had set an ambitious $10,000 goal. But, as head after Rowan head got the “buzz treatment” by bemused volunteer barbers from Glassboro’s Hair 2 There salon, the grand total rose dramatically. Students came out to the Pit in droves—and watched intently as the grand total grew.
“We thought our goal of $10,000 was a super-high reach,” LoBue says. “Students were so generous with their donations. They were just as excited about reaching the milestone goals as I was.”
In order to be shaved, each participant was required to meet the fundraising goal they established for themselves. Freshman secondary education and math major Ethan Bobo of Erma, who suggested the event to SUP, was the top fundraiser at $1,275. Bobo participated in a St. Baldrick’s Day event last year at Lower Cape May Regional High School.
Thompson raised $833, while Watson raised $731. As the theme song from the musical “Hair” blared from the speakers, they sat down alongside Constantine Alexakos, assistant director of student activities, for the final, climatic shaving of the night. Later, amid cheers from the Rowan crowd, they posed for pictures, their bald heads gleaming.
To Thompson’s surprise, SUP donated the funds to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in memory of her late mother. It was the only time that evening that she allowed herself a tear. The public balding, she said, is helping her work through her grief.
“Raising funds to help cure kids with cancer is more important than any hair on my head,” said Thompson, vice president of SUP. “I don’t want any parent to go through what I went through. I can’t imagine being a parent and losing a child.”