National Volunteer Week is a special time for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a donor- and volunteer-powered charity. So much of St. Baldrick’s success depends on the many people who give their time and energy raising money for the fight against childhood cancers. At St. Baldrick’s, we recognize that, without our many determined volunteers, we could never fund lifesaving research and clinical trials to help save kids’ lives.
That’s why we’re taking a few moments this National Volunteer Week to recognize some of our incredible volunteers. These people have shown remarkable passion for St. Baldrick’s and its mission of conquering childhood cancers once and for all. This week, we’ll be introducing you to a few people who represent many of the amazing volunteers who make innovative, lifesaving research possible.
Today, let’s meet two such individuals.
At just 12 years of age, Ari is among our youngest volunteers. But don’t let her young age fool you – she’s very serious about raising money for St. Baldrick’s.
When she’s not doing competitive Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or hiking in the mountains, Ari’s busy encouraging people in her community to support childhood cancer research.
As a Squire of Hope in St. Baldrick’s League of Legendary Heroes, Ari first got involved in fundraising for childhood cancer at age 9. “Mom and Dad had a friend who was doing St. Baldrick’s – her name is Katie Wood,”
Ari said. “She told me about the Foundation. I thought it was amazing. And my birthday is on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. It just seemed to fit. So, I joined Katie’s team. Four years and $20,000 later, I’m still here.”
Ari is already a four-time shavee and two-time team captain. When asked why she’s become so involved with St. Baldrick’s head-shaving events, she points to “having the knowledge that when you step off that stage, you just helped doctors try to find a cure for cancer.”
“It’s also a lot of fun,” she says. “Shave day for me is better than Halloween and Christmas combined. My teammates are all my best friends. Getting to spend all day with them is awesome.”
When we asked Ari for advice on coaching her team, she said the key was to “keep everyone involved.” “Everyone has a role to keep and a part to play,” she added. “Get your community involved. You will not be alone in this.”
Like many dedicated supporters of St. Baldrick’s, Ron was very close to a child who died from cancer.
In January 2011, his daughter, Amanda, was diagnosed with stage IV high-risk neuroblastoma at just 16 months of age. After Amanda underwent chemotherapy and surgery, she went into remission. Sadly, she relapsed in August 2013 and, despite undergoing more rigorous treatments, passed away in May 2014 at age four.
Today, Ron, an experienced engineer, is one of St. Baldrick’s most dedicated volunteers. He’s an elected member of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Pediatric and Adolescent Solid Tumor Steering Committee (PASTSC). As one of two patient advocates on the steering committee, his task is to provide a patient perspective when researchers present their ideas for clinical trials, which St. Baldrick’s funds.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the clinical trial concepts and providing a review of the concept from a patient perspective,” Ron says. “I am able to draw on my scientific, medical and industry knowledge and expertise in reviewing the clinical trial concepts, while at the same time providing the patient perspective based on what our daughter endured.”
Ron is also a regular attendee of Childhood Cancer Action Days, an event held each spring in Washington, D.C. When asked why he participates in this event each year, Ron said that “children with cancer don’t vote and therefore don’t have a voice in the American political system.” To Ron, this means it’s up to “parents, caregivers, researchers and clinicians to strongly advocate for children with cancer.”
That’s why Ron encourages others to get involved with St. Baldrick’s. “I highly recommend being a volunteer in a St. Baldrick’s event (or creating your own event) and helping us raise more funds for childhood cancer research,” he said.
“Children with cancer are so incredibly vulnerable and completely dependent on us as a society to help them.”
Follow Their Lead: Volunteer with St. Baldrick’s
Ari and Ron come from different stages in life and bring different perspectives to their volunteering – and that’s part of what makes St. Baldrick’s so great.
Join Ari and Ron in the fight against childhood cancers. Keep in mind that you can do this in any capacity you choose.
For example, you could:
- Sign up to shave your head
- Organize a head-shaving event
- Volunteer at a local head-shaving event
- Offer your talents and shave heads
- Create your own “Do What You Want” DIY fundraiser
- Involve your business or organization
- Join our advocacy movement
- Make a donation and fund research that saves kids’ lives
However, you choose to contribute, you’ll be helping in the fight against childhood cancers!
Join the fight against childhood cancer.
Register. Fundraise. Show up and shave.