Hoping that bald really is beautiful

Published 9:12 pm Friday, March 6, 2015

Did you know that every three minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer?

Maybe you didn’t. But I’d be willing to bet you did know that cancer would affect each and every one of us at some point in our lives. Most of us likely has a cancer story already. Whether it was your diagnosis or that of someone you know, cancer has likely already come knocking on your door. I know it has knocked on mine.

I have lost people whom I love to cancer. I have also seen people whom I love fight cancer and win. Unfortunately, cancer is too often the victor. But I don’t believe it has to be. Due to significant advancements in cancer treatment, doctors are now able to save lives that even just a few short years ago would have been lost. Those advancements have been made because of extensive research that continues to push the limits of our understanding of the disease. And that research is made possible because of the millions of dollars raised annually to fund it.

One of the organizations raising significant money for cancer research, specifically childhood cancer research, is the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. In fact, as of 2012, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation awarded more than $100 million in grant funding for childhood cancer research. How do they do it? It’s quite simple, really — by getting people to shave their heads.

Each year around St Patrick’s Day in towns and cities all across America, volunteers have head shaving parties to raise money for the foundation. Later this month, Fred’s Restaurant will be hosting its eighth annual St. Baldrick’s party. According to event organizer Scott Seddon, the parties have raised as much as $17,000 per year. This year, he hopes to raise more. And I want to help.

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, I will be getting my head shaved by Naomi Koontz, owner of Aesthetics By Naomi in downtown Franklin. Naomi and her staff have participated in this event for several years, generously volunteering their time and shaving talents to help raise money for St. Baldrick’s. However, this year will be a little different for Naomi. This time, she won’t just be wielding the clippers — she is going to have a pair cut off all her hair as well. Naomi is getting her head shaved in honor of her dear friend Jackie. I’m getting mine shaved in memory of my late friend Andy. Together, we hope to raise $15,000 in addition to all of the other participants who have signed up to get their locks clipped.

If you are inclined to contribute, there are a couple of different ways you can. First, you can come by Fred’s at 7 p.m. on the 21st, and write a check while your’s truly bids adieu to one of his last remaining positive physical attributes. Or, you can go to www.stbaldricks.org and donate online. Once on the website, simply type “Fred’s Restaurant” into the search box in the top right corner of your computer screen. You will clearly see the event listed for March 21 and can choose which of the participants you choose to support.

The fight against cancer has come a long way in recent years, and has helped save countless lives. I hope that raising a few dollars for merely getting my head shaved helps save many more. Because, as much progress as we have made, a child being diagnosed with cancer every three minutes means we still have a long way to go.

TONY CLARK is publisher of The Tidewater News. His email address is tony.clark@tidewaternews.com, but prefers if you look him up on www.stbaldricks.org to donate a few dollars to fight childhood cancer.