Joey Chamness has grown up from being St. Baldrick’s very first Ambassador to become a longtime shavee and the VEO of his college event — helping fundraise for childhood cancer research to the tune of thousands of dollars. Why does he do it? Because this survivor knows firsthand how important it is to find better, safer treatments and cures for kids with cancer.
(Left) Joey rests and watches movies during his treatment for osteosarcoma. (Right) Now a survivor, Joey speaks during a St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event.
21-year-old Joey Chamness considers himself lucky.
From the child who donates his piggy bank to help kids with cancer, to the volunteer who matches every gift raised, there are many reasons to be confident that researchers will gain the upper hand against childhood cancer. In honor of Volunteer Week, here’s the story of two female volunteers who made an indelible impact on me and showcase why I am constantly amazed, surprised and humbled by St. Baldrick’s volunteers…
Bride-to-be Corrine goes under the clippers (held by her fiancé) during the Fado head-shaving event in Chicago.
On March 9, 2018 at the Fado Irish Pub head-shaving event in downtown Chicago, I was humbled by two women who defied convention by shaving ahead of one of life’s most important events.
In honor of National Siblings Day, we bring you an amazing story of a brother’s love and dedication to honor his sister and raise money for childhood cancer research in her memory. Meet Geordan, a long-time shavee and the proud big brother of Honored Kid Rayanna.
Rayanna and Geordan share a sweet moment.
When Geordan shaves with St. Baldrick’s, his sister is there. When he drives his race car, she’s with him. When he walks the halls of his high school, rocking his bald head, Rayanna is never far away. The little girl is always with Geordan in his thoughts, hanging around her brother just like she did before childhood cancer took her away.
“Rayanna was my only full sibling and now it’s just me,” the 16-year-old said. “I miss Rayanna and wish there had never been childhood cancer.”
This month, 17-year-old Flannery sat down in the barber’s chair for the seventh time in her young life. She doesn’t have a personal story of childhood cancer or a connection – she shaves and fundraises for research because it’s the right thing to do.
Flannery grins during her shave on March 15 at the Matt Denny’s Ale House event in Arcadia, California.
When Flannery was 9 years old, she shaved her head with St. Baldrick’s for the very first time. She doesn’t remember being scared or nervous as the stylist snipped off her long ponytail.
“I just remember being really, really excited and feeling my head after and being really happy,” she said.
Leanne gives Ava a kiss on her peach-fuzz head, while her baby sister, Addalyn, giggles.
It turns out that being bald is an instant conversation starter. Leanne, who just recently shaved with St. Baldrick’s, loves it.
“It’s very empowering,” she said. “Honestly, it hasn’t even been a week yet and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked about my hair. It just opens the door for conversation and I love that, because I love talking about my daughter.”
Her daughter’s name was Ava – Ava the brave, bald and beautiful.
Ava showed an independent streak as soon as she could sit up by herself. “I’ve never seen anything like it. She just really was her own person,” her mom said.
When it comes to fighting childhood cancer, Honored Kid Tyler is a triple threat – he’s a survivor of kids’ cancer, a shavee and a nursing student! Why is he passionate about conquering childhood cancers? Because this three-time cancer fighter doesn’t want more kids to go through what he did.
Tyler smiles after his shave with 9-year-old Honored Kid Ally.
While Tyler was in the hospital, he became very good at pretending that he was asleep. He overheard all sorts of things – things that doctors liked to sugarcoat when he was awake. Like the fact that they thought he was going to die.
St. Baldrick’s CEO Kathleen Ruddy has seen it all. From the years before the Foundation was officially established to today, she has watched St. Baldrick’s grow from a few passionate volunteers to become the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants in the country. Now take a trip down memory lane with Kathleen, to where it all began.
A shavee is all smiles at the St. Baldrick’s Space Coast Conquers head-shaving event in Viera, Florida, which is one of thousands of events across the country and beyond.
18 years ago, St. Baldrick’s was a tiny group of passionate volunteers that aimed to do a big thing – conquer childhood cancers. The first event, established by the reinsurance industry in 2000, intended to raise $17,000 and raised $104,000 instead. Shavees scratched those newly shorn domes and said, ‘Maybe we should do this again!’
In 2001, these intrepid volunteers set forth to grow St. Baldrick’s throughout the U.S. for the following St. Patrick’s Day.
For Eric Haddad, head shaving isn’t just a one-time deal, because as the dad of a kid who fought brain cancer, he knows firsthand that the effects can last a lifetime. Next month, at the Rocky River event in Ohio, Eric will be shaving his head for the eighth time, while raising funds for research that he hopes will lead to better, safer treatments for kids with cancer.
During a past event, Eric shaves for his son, Shane.
When Shane Haddad was 4 years old, he started fighting childhood cancer. Eight years later, he hasn’t stopped fighting.
As a cancer survivor, Karen knows that having cancer is a terrifying experience for an adult. She doesn’t want kids to go through what she did — that’s why she’s shaved eight times and raised thousands of dollars for kids’ cancer research! But how does she raise the big bucks year after year? Read on for 8 tips from the veteran shavee℠ herself …
A mom and cancer survivor, Karen has shaved for St. Baldrick’s for eight years.
1. Make it easy for people to donate: When I send out emails, I always include the link to my St. Baldrick’s participant page. I also make fliers and mail out over 200 of them — and every single one includes a self-addressed, stamped envelope, so no one has to look for an envelope and stamp to send a check back to me.
Kathleen poses with the St. Baldrick’s office’s honorary Knight Crusader, who wears a medal and crown.
In an age of storytelling, St. Baldrick’s has an interesting one. Three resourceful men – John Bender, Tim Kenny and Enda McDonnell – founded the charity based upon a challenge to shave their heads bald. Eighteen years later, St. Baldrick’s helps children worldwide, has engaged volunteers on six continents and is the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research grants in the world.
That is the power of individuals. But John, Tim and Enda didn’t do all of this on their own.
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