If you attended last year’s St. Baldrick’s event, you might recall a packed house at O’Shea’s Irish Pub in the Highlands — full of shavers, shavees and many who just wanted to watch as clumps of hair fell to the ground in the name of children’s cancer research.
This year, organizers have upped the ante in both venue and goal, moving the event to Louisville Slugger Field and hoping to raise $200,000 through 22 teams and 235 participants currently signed up. It takes place Saturday, March 12, from 1-9 p.m.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation holds similar head-shaving events all around the country to raise money for childhood cancer research. Only 4 percent of federal funding earmarked for cancer research goes to childhood cancer research, which is why organizations like St. Baldrick’s are vital. Last year, they raised nearly $37 million nationally and are already hovering around $12 million in 2016.
Locally, more than $79,000 has been raised with the end goal of $200,000. Their contribution last year was $160,000. One of the top teams, which Insider Louisville covered last year, is Hope From Harper. Led by Brian Wehneman in memory of his daughter Harper, the team has raised $13,235 of their goal of $25,000, with 37 participants signed up so far.
Wehneman tells Insider he’s thrilled that, along with himself, both his daughters and wife have agreed to go bald for the cause. And while his team is a little far from its goal, he has no doubt friends, neighbors and strangers alike will help him get there. Donations are accepted online, and, he points out, many people wait until the actual event to contribute.
David Elster, a volunteer coordinator of the Louisville St. Baldrick’s, says there will be even more ways to raise funds at the event than in the past.
Along with a silent auction of top-notch items from hot air balloon rides to bourbon barrel heads, they’ll be selling custom-made green mini Slugger Bats. And new this year is a raised stage so all can view the brave souls shaving off their hair, as well as a children’s activity area with games, crafts and face painting.
Elster stresses the importance of what St. Baldrick’s provides for children’s cancer research. He says that while cancer medications and treatments continue to increase for adults, only three drugs have been created in the last 30 years for children. The most recent drug, called Unituxin, was funded in part by money raised by St. Baldrick’s.
“Even with this new drug, the gap is still wide and must be bridged,” says Elster. “The average child going through cancer treatment is subjected to adult medicines that can have severe longterm effects if the child is cured. With so few vocal advocates for children, St. Baldrick’s supporters stand united as champions for children with cancer and to finding better treatments, cures and longterm outcomes.”
St. Baldrick’s takes place from 1-9 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, at Slugger Field, 401 E. Main St.