Michael Schroeder. Joey Chamness. They are why I’ll be shaving my head on March 11th.
Michael Schroeder is the only son of our dear friends Mike and Patrice Schroeder. Mike and I have been friends since college; Barbara and Patrice since first grade! Michael’s older sister is our goddaughter. When Michael was seven years old he appeared to have the stomach flu, but Patrice instinctively knew it was more than that. Sadly, she was right. Little Michael, a buddy of our son Joey, was diagnosed with brain cancer. After a courageous battle, and just one year shy of his “all clear” 5th year of remission, Michael died at age 11.
Joey Chamness is a twin son of Chuck and Briget Chamness who have become very close friends of ours ever since they moved to Indianapolis from DC about 15 years ago. When Joey was eight years old his leg was hurting him more than what seemed reasonable for even an active, soccer-playing kid like Joey. Briget took him to their doctor who fortunately ordered an x-ray which revealed that Joey had bone cancer in his leg. Thankfully, this story has a happier ending. After extensive therapy including too many surgeries to count, 13 year old Joey has been cancer free for nearly six years and is a survivor.
Baldrick’s was the idea of a group of insurance executives in New York City, all with Irish roots. For years, they had been observing St. Patrick’s Day in the traditional way, but in appreciation of their own good fortune, they decided to find a way to help others, specifically children with cancer. On March 17, 2000, they turned their annual St. Patrick’s Day party into the first St. Baldrick’s event. They collected donations from people willing to see them and other volunteers shaved bald at the party, with funds going to research to find cures. Their bald heads would be a symbol of solidarity with kids – like Michael and Joey – fighting cancer. Perhaps not surprisingly, many childhood cancer patients are more immediately focused on whether they will become bald than whether they will survive. My son Connor joined dozens of his grade school classmates in shaving their heads to make Joey feel more comfortable while he was going through chemo. Since that first shaving in 2000, $87 million has been raised by St. Baldrick’s to fight childhood cancer, with 144,000 shavees from all walks of life participating in hundreds of events. Indiana University and Riley Hospital for Children have been among the beneficiaries of cancer research funds raised by St. Baldrick’s. Our good friend Chuck Chamness, Joey’s dad, himself an insurance executive has become a leader with St. Baldrick’s.
So Michael and Joey are why on March 11th I’ll join the movement and have my head shaved at Chuck’s St. Baldrick’s event in Indianapolis. Please help support important childhood cancer research by making a donation to St. Baldrick’s so that my ample noggin is not sheared in vain. Just click on the "MAKE A DONATION" button at the top of this page.
Thank you for your consideration. By the way, this is also a great party, and I’d love for you to be there if you can: March 11, 2011; 6:30-9:30 p.m., Indianapolis Northside Knights of Columbus, 2100 East 71st Street.