By Sir Bodie Centore, Knight of the Bald Table, now age 17
My Buckets for St. Baldrick’s fundraiser, a 3v3 basketball tournament held in Syracuse, NY, raised over $10,000 for childhood cancer research on March 20th. While this event surpassed my fundraising goal, it also had an impact even more significant than anything I had experienced in 10 years of fundraising for St. Baldrick’s.
I became involved with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation 10 years ago after hearing about the local Syracuse, NY event at Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub & Restaurant from family and friends. I was intrigued, but as a 7-year-old, very nervous about having my head shaved. Earlier that year, I spent several days in the hospital with pneumonia. I didn’t understand cancer much then, I couldn’t even spell it, but I knew I hadn’t enjoyed my time at the hospital and I didn’t think kids should have to go through anything like that.Bodie at his first shave with Emcee Chow Downey
With this in mind, I decided to shave. I called my family members and wrote a letter that I took door-to-door asking for donations. I surpassed my goal and raised over $3,000.
That first year I began using two fundraising tactics that helped me greatly over the next eight years of shaving: a hand-written letter to ask for donations, and a similarly hand-written, personalized thank you note after receiving them.
The day of my first shave in 2012, I was filled with nervous excitement. When it was over, I said it “tickled so much it hurt,” but also that I felt “spectacular.” I had two main takeaways: I wanted to do it again, and I wanted to go bigger.
The next year, I raised my goal, but more importantly, started my own team. We raised $10,000, and shaving with a team of my friends made St. Baldrick’s even more fun.
In 2014, the Baldacious Baldies grew bigger and we raised $16,000. Some students from Syracuse University did a short movie about us and we were featured in the local newspaper. It all felt very cool to 9 year-old-me. I loved checking the Top of the Charts board every day to see where I ranked, and for the first time I was near the top of the list.
When I turned 10, I started to gain a better understanding of cancer when I met a child, 4-year old Ocasio, who had a brain tumor and was given only a few months to live. Ocasio was one of my honored kids that year, and meeting him inspired me to fight harder for kids with cancer as I was shocked by the devastation the disease caused. I began to raise more money and to build my team by recruiting more friends.
By my 6th year, I gained even more determination to raise the most money possible when our family friend’s baby, Archer, was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor at 7 months old, and a girl in my class, McKenna, was diagnosed with leukemia.Bodie with Archie and his family
Each year I added more fundraising methods. I put jars out at local businesses and emptied them every week, and I collected bottles and cans under the slogan “All the pennies count!” I wrote a rap and made a beat on Garageband and posted it to my page. That year I was the No. 1 fundraiser at Kitty Hoynes, raising over $16,000. The Baldacious Baldies had grown to 25 members and raised $37,000.
Going into my 8th year of shaving, I met a boy named Charlie, who was two years older than me who had a DIPG brain tumor, which has no viable treatments. I was moved by the way he talked about his cancer, and his ability to be so composed about it at such a young age. That year, I started speaking at local Rotary clubs and my church, and worked with a local gym on a charity workout. By now, I was immensely motivated to fundraise by all of the kids I had met, especially Charlie, as I saw someone my age battling cancer, and understood how difficult of a thing that would be. I raised $27,000 that year, my team raised $54,000, and I was named a Knight of the Bald table for shaving for 8 years.
Charlie died in August 2019. I was stunned and upset when I found out, but at that moment, I knew I would try my hardest to raise as much as possible in his honor for my final shave when I was in eighth grade. In my letter that year, I wrote that my goal was to “inspire others as I had been inspired.” I made another video, increased all of my usual fundraising activities, and pushed my team members to raise as much as they could. Ultimately, I was able to raise over $31,000, and my team raised nearly $55,000. I was the No. 1 fundraiser at Kitty Hoynes, and my team was the No. 1 team at Kitty Hoynes. It was an incredible last shave.
I shaved for 8 years and in 7 years the Baladacious Baldies raised over $250,000.The Baldacious Baldies post-shave
More Importantly, Ocasio, Archer and McKenna are all now cancer free.
After my last shave I wanted to continue supporting St. Baldrick’s, but I wanted to keep my hair. I didn’t know how I could help without shaving. I filmed a video with legendary event emcee Chow Downey at Kitty Hoynes to promote the next shave, but COVID hit and everything was canceled for two years. It was frustrating that I couldn’t help. I knew, when I could, I wanted to do something bigger, I just didn’t know what.
Inspiration came after volunteering at a soccer shootout fundraiser. I thought I could do something similar with basketball. Basketball is the most popular sport in my school district from elementary school through high school, and I have great memories of going to basketball camps there and playing in 3v3 round-robin tournaments. Kids love participating in these types of tournaments.
I wanted to host a basketball tournament for kids and hold it in late March during the NCAA tournament to benefit from the basketball craze that descends upon my school district during the NCAA tournament time.
I discovered St. Baldrick’s “Do What You Want” fundraiser option, where you can create any fundraiser you want with their support, and I knew this was a perfect fit.
However, I was nervous of what others would think about my idea, and didn’t tell anyone outside of my family for a few months.
The first person I told was my former JV basketball coach and gym teacher, who loves basketball and runs multiple basketball camps and leagues. I was incredibly nervous, but he was extremely supportive right away and offered to help. I reached out to more school officials to get their approval, with similar levels of anxiety, and everyone strongly supported the idea. But it was already December, and if I wanted the event to happen in March, things would have to get done fast.
At this time, I was busy balancing running track and performing in the school musical, and I felt like I had no time to plan the event, yet the weeks kept slipping by. I considered pushing it back a few months but I knew this wasn’t what I wanted.
I wanted to get back to raising money for childhood cancer research, and fighting for the kids battling the disease. On the last possible day, I submitted paperwork for school board approval of the event. With that, Buckets for St. Baldrick’s was official for March 20, only two months away.
There was no turning back now.
I created my fundraising page on the St. Baldrick’s site, wrote my letter and worked with my old coach to develop the registration form. We started promoting the event with flyers, school announcements and social media posts. I designed a T-shirt with the help of our high school art teacher, and with the help of an old shaving teammate, reached out to local grocery stores for food donations. On top of that, I sent emails to business owners asking for sponsorships to cover my event costs. I wanted every penny possible to go to St. Baldrick’s.
By February, I had sponsors and donors, a T-shirt design and many old Baldacious Baldies lined up to referee. We received bracelets, T-shirts, pins, and buckets from St. Baldrick’s, and designed promotional posters and posters thanking our sponsors. I set a goal to get 40 teams and $5,000 raised.
Everything was coming together and there was seemingly an incredible amount of community support, but two weeks away from the registration deadline, we had just a handful of teams registered and just over $1,000 in donations.
Thankfully, as the weeks progressed, the teams rolled in and the brackets started filling up. The day before the event, we went to the school to hang the St. Baldrick’s banners, get the TV working to stream the March Madness games, and set everything else up. When we were done, I was confident we were going to have a great event.
The morning of Buckets for St. Baldrick’s, the gym buzzed with excitement as the first division of second and third graders arrived. Parents filled the bleachers to watch, something I hadn’t expected, and the gym was electric. I kicked off the event with a quick speech and we were finally underway.Bodie recruited many of his Baldacious Baldies team members to volunteer at the tournament Bodie checking the brackets
A decade of fundraising for St. Baldrick’s and a year of planning had led to this incredible event, and it felt great to see my idea that once seemed far-fetched become a reality. The energy throughout the school was immense, with kids, parents, coaches, and volunteers all coming together over basketball to fight for the cause. We had families in the stands touched by recent cancer diagnoses and two teams supporting Luke’s Army, another St. Baldrick’s fundraising powerhouse. Many people were so moved by the kindness of the fundraiser that they donated at the door, and we raised $500 more that way.
The tournament truly portrayed the basketball frenzy that is March Madness, somewhat flying by the seat of its pants the whole day. I also never expected the strong sense of community that was created by the tournament, and in some ways, I felt like I was having an even bigger impact than when I shaved my head. To have my idea finally come to fruition, and have it create such a community effort for children’s cancer research was truly amazing, and a completely new feeling I had not yet experienced in my journey with St. Baldrick’s.
The tournament has now raised over $10,000, but more importantly, hopefully, sent a ripple effect of good deeds and hope throughout our community.
Support Bodie’s Buckets for St. Baldrick’s by donating here
Read more on the St. Baldrick’s blog:
As with most things in 2020, Giving Tuesday seems different this year. But at a time when the future seems unsure and so much feels out of our control, some things haven’t changed.
Kids are still being diagnosed with cancer.
Every two minutes, around the world.
And they need our help to find cures.
Did you know you’re already doing things online that can help find cures for childhood cancer? Here are four ways to take your online activity to the next level, turning your actions into real donations for life-saving research. And with so many of us choosing to shop online during Covid, it’s a win-win. It couldn’t be any easier than this!
St. Baldrick’s Foundation supporters have a very important job – and that’s to #ConquerKidsCancer! And it takes an army of supporters to make a difference. Baldrick’s Brigade members are donors and volunteers who are all-in to help kids with cancer, and we hope you’ll join us!
When you’re online, are you…
A) Shopping or selling
B) Searching for information
C) Helping fund childhood cancer research
D) All the above.
If you’re answer isn’t D, it can be — and it’s super easy too!
Did you know that there are things that you are already doing online that can be turned into donations towards lifesaving childhood cancer research? Here are three ways to take your online activity to the next level by turning your actions into real donations — it couldn’t be any easier than this!
At any stage of life, it is important to plan for how your affairs will be handled. A few simple steps today can give you peace of mind tomorrow by ensuring that you and your loved ones are well protected and that your legacy lives on in a way that you choose.
“Planned Giving” has a few names, including legacy giving, gift planning, and estate giving. It is a means of making charitable gifts part of a financial, estate, tax and philanthropic plan, maximizing the benefits to both the donor and the charity, and often achieving significant tax savings.
Increasing the impact of your giving can often be achieved at a very low cost. It’s simply a matter of planning WHAT to give, HOW to give and WHEN to give, based on your personal needs.
But planned giving can also be misunderstood. Here are a few misconceptions about planned giving that St. Baldrick’s Foundation supporters should consider.
This time of year, it’s hard to visit any corner of the internet without seeing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales — millions of dollars in savings prompting billions of dollars in sales. But today is Giving Tuesday, the day we take some of those savings and give back to worthy causes that are meaningful to us. Worthy causes such as funding childhood cancer research.
Giving Tuesday — a movement that, last year alone, raised more than $380 million around the world for charitable organizations — is an important day for St. Baldrick’s. As the world’s largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, we rely on the generosity of donors and volunteers like you to achieve our goal — to fund the best pediatric cancer research and make pediatric cancers a thing of the past.
This year, we’ve set a goal of raising $150,000 on Giving Tuesday to save kids with cancer.
Most of you know St. Baldrick’s for our signature head shaving events, where a shavee raises money and shaves their head to stand in solidarity with kids battling cancer. While these are the most visible, public events, you may not know that we work with other charities and foundations to form partnerships, allowing for more grant funding every year. Currently, we’re working with 7 different charities, and we’ve together raised upwards of $2 million as a result of those partnerships.
One such foundation, the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation, has worked to see research move to clinical trials. You can learn more about one project we’ve worked together to fund at this video.
As we wrap up National Volunteer Week, today we’ll meet two more volunteers with very different stories: one is the mom of a child diagnosed with cancer; the other, a researcher who’s devoted her career to early detection of childhood cancers.
Both will show us that it doesn’t matter how you get involved – just that your involvement is crucial to the work of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Grassroots, individual fundraising and volunteering have been vital to the success of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. But corporations are also key supporters – as we continue spotlighting volunteer efforts for National Volunteer Week, let’s meet a corporate giving professional with a passion for helping kids and getting his company and colleagues on board, too.
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