Kathleen’s Desk

Each Child is Irreplaceable. Unlike My Hair!

by Kathleen Ruddy, CEO, St. Baldrick's Foundation
February 26, 2014

In many businesses, success is measured by statistics, and mine is no different.

Heads shaved, money raised, media impressions, research grants funded, and more — all meant to improve the most important statistic of all: The number of kids with cancer who survive.

But kids aren’t statistics, and they aren’t “business.” Unlike hair, each child is irreplaceable.

In 2007, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation made the first grant to what is today the Children’s Specialty Center of Nevada, which treats all of Nevada’s children with cancer. Each year, center staff, led by Annette Logan and Dr. Jonathan Bernstein, team up with Lynn and Brian McMullan of McMullan’s Irish Pub and their dedicated committee of St. Baldrick’s volunteers, to hold a party for the children and families of the center in Las Vegas — a kick-off to all all Las Vegas’ St. Baldrick’s events.

When I told Annette of my decision to shave again this year, she invited me to shave with them, and I was honored to shave with a team that fights each day for children’s futures. Seeing children, who have fought a monster, tumbling and jumping, chasing each other and laughing, was all the assurance I needed that my shave was worth it.

As a redhead, I was born with fewer strands of hair than most, but I shaved each of the approximately 90,000 hairs on my head. Globally, 175,000 new  kids will be diagnosed with cancer this year, so I figure I’ve offered one hair to save the life of every child diagnosed between January 1st and July 7th of this year.

Is each of those lives worth one hair? You bet. I wish I had more hair to give.


After our shave, Annette and I put our bald heads together to think up new ways to help kids beat cancer. Watch out, because we’re just getting started!

I dedicate my shave to my friends Justin, Jeremy, Faolan, Kyra, Joey, Arden, Brent, Amy, David, Jackson, Sean, Zack, Cameron, Evan, Naomi, Jackie, Claire, Keaton, Aiden, Seneca, AJ, Maxim, Christian, Jadyn, Jared, Dominic, Francesca, Molly, Emily, Jordan, Avery, Matthias, Luke, Averi, Ty, Leah, Mason, Georgie, Sarah, Zoe, Julia, Khalid, Shaun, Iana, Elizabeth, Pietro, Sara, Austin, Emily, Sarah, Teddy, Alan, Hayden, Lauren, Harlem, Grace, and every young person who has bravely shown us how to make every minute, and every strand of hair, count.

Years ago, I met a boy named Jeremy at a St. Baldrick’s event. Each time a shavee’s hair began to fall, he let out a big belly laugh. I asked Jeremy about that, and he said, “I’m so excited. It means I’m going to get to grow up.”

Having met thousands of kids with cancer, I know each of them wants want Jeremy wants. And ultimately, that is why I shaved my head. It’s why all of us do what we do to Conquer Childhood Cancers: to help kids grow up, healthy and cancer free.

Thank you all for being heroes for kids and families fighting cancer.


You can help kids grow up healthy and cancer free. Get involved.

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