Kathleen’s Desk

An Open Letter to Kamryn Renfro and Delaney Clements

by Kathleen Ruddy, CEO, St. Baldrick's Foundation
March 25, 2014

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Dear Kamryn and Delaney,

Yesterday we learned that you, Kamryn, were suspended from school for shaving your head. You did so in solidarity with your friend, 11-year-old Delaney Clements, a St. Baldrick’s Honored Kid — and a cancer-fighting hero.

Kamryn, every member of the worldwide St. Baldrick’s community is cheering for you today. Delaney didn’t ask to have cancer and lose her hair. But you chose to lose your hair to show Delaney how much you love her, and bald looks very beautiful on both of you.

I’ve met thousands of kids with cancer, and each tells me they feel empowered and hopeful because people shaving for them means they’re not alone in the fight. I cannot guess what your shave meant to Delaney, but I think it’s more than you or I will ever know. People don’t always take the time to understand our actions before they judge them. Often people don’t understand acts of sacrifice, or the power and goodness behind sacrifice, and let’s face it, sometimes it’s scary.

But having cancer is much worse than being bald. Delaney, you shouldn’t have to fight cancer, but you and Kamryn together have presented a teachable moment for not only your school, but for all of us. You have us all asking, “How will I support a child with cancer? What is the right thing to do?”

When St. Baldrick’s began, the only bald kids in school were kids with cancer and they often didn’t attend, even when they were well enough to. The stigma of being bald was too much to bear and their bald head became a visual reminder that their childhood had been stolen. This is a lot for a kid to bear and it’s a lot for their friends to deal with, too. But the eyes of today’s children have been opened. They know other kids get cancer, and they want to help. In fact, I’ve never met a kid who didn’t want to help.

Fortunately today, over 10,000 students, teachers and school administrators — and tens of thousands of others around the world — shave each year for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, in solidarity with every child we endeavor to save.

Kamryn, by your sacrifice and willingness to be bald like Delaney, you’re demonstrating that love is more powerful than fear and that life’s most valuable lessons are often learned outside the classroom.

Thank you, Delaney, for reminding us that the best people are worth fighting for.

And thank you, Kamryn, for being a hero for Delaney and every kid who is fighting for his or her future.

Kathleen Ruddy signature

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Read more St. Baldrick’s head-shaving stories:


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