Rachael Chaffin was an active and healthy 11 year old girl who loved life.
From birth on she was a very happy and spirited girl with a very caring heart. Rachael was a lover of people, animals and the outdoors. She loved being outside, going on nature walks, camping, raising her goats, and playing softball. She loved to run, zip line, swim and her dance class. She loved the beach, the mountains, and especially the snow. Snow skiing was one of her favorite adventures. Rachael pretty much loved everything she could do with friends and family. She was a kind and gentle hearted soul that was so dear to her family and friends. Her best friend was definitely her younger brother Ryan. They were the best of buddies and shared so many fun adventures together. She was a loving big sister and we are so thankful that their relationship was a close one filled with love and admiration for each other. “Ray Ray” loved to watch Ryan play football and baseball. She was and still is his biggest fan.
Rachael was looking forward to starting Middle School and looking forward to all of the new adventures that would bring when she was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma in the summer of 2013. Rachael loved school and could not wait for school to start and meet new friends or to see her old ones. She was a great student and was eager to start her new classes and girl’s athletics. Rachael was more concerned about what her diagnosis would do to her school and athletic schedule than what it might do to her.
Rachael fought her cancer battle with a smile and determination. She was always positive and truly believed she would beat cancer so that she could go on to help others. Sometime during her treatment Rachael’s dream of becoming a teacher or a Veterinarian changed to wanting a career in pediatric oncology. She believed that her experience with cancer would make her a better nurse or doctor later. Her positive attitude and strong faith remain an inspiration for all that knew her. It was Rachael’s belief that “God gave her cancer because she was strong enough to take it and some other kids might not be”. Even knowing at the end that she was not going to beat cancer, she never gave up her love and faith in God.
She taught us to “Focus Forward” and to never give up. St. Baldrick’s was very special to “Ray Ray”. From the very beginning of Rachael’s diagnoses she noticed that there were way too many children with cancer. Instead of being in her own little world scared to death of her future, she was pointing out to us that too many kids were sick or missing limbs. She immediately wanted to focus on ways to give back and to help with childhood cancer research. We were told about the St. Baldrick’s organization and after looking into this foundation we knew this was the organization we wanted to help raise money for.
Rachael got a group together in 2014 and formed the team “Kicking Cancer with Ray Ray”. In 2014 Rachael’s team had 12 friends and family members that shaved their heads and raised almost $6,000. She had a blast at the event sporting her own bald head and shaving several of her team member’s heads!
The next year in March of 2015 the Kicking Cancer with Ray Ray Team raised even more funds to go towards cancer research. Not only did Kicking Cancer with Ray Ray have over 20 shave at the St. Baldrick’s event but also had many participants at an event her middle school held. Her middle school principal and teachers shaved their heads in front of the student body. The school helped raise funds for St. Baldrick’s and continues to do so each year in Rachael’s memory. The outflowing of love and support from her friends, the teachers and the entire community was amazing.
These shavees really touched all of our hearts by their participation. Rachael was not able to attend either event in 2015 since she was in the hospital. She was however able to shave one of her brave nurses heads at the hospital. It meant so much for her to still feel like she was actually participating in the fund raising events.
In April of 2015 Rachael gained her angel wings. True to her nature she asked that friends and family make donations to St. Baldrick’s in lieu of flowers. We were amazed at how many donations were made to St. Baldrick’s in her honor. That year almost $27,000 was raised by “Kicking Cancer with Ray Ray” to support Children’s Cancer Research!
To carry on the tradition of shaving and raising funds Rachael’s Dad and brother along with family and friends participated in fundraising and shaved their heads in 2016. “Kicking Cancer for Ray Ray” rose close to $6,000.
Rachael had such a heart for raising money and helping fund Children’s Cancer Research. It was important to her that we all increase the awareness of childhood cancer. She loved being able to be a part of something that helped others find better treatment options and hopefully one day a cure!
In honor of Rachael, her family and friends continue to support the St. Baldrick’s foundation under the team name “Kicking Cancer with Ray Ray”. We are also working with the school districts to bring more attention to childhood cancer awareness. Rachael believed that there should be just as many people and athletes wearing gold in September as there are wearing pink in October. If the children can get a “Gold Rush” started then hopefully the corporations and pro sports associations will jump on board with some serious support.
Donations made to Rachael Chaffin's Research Fund have funded a St. Baldrick’s Research Grant for Scott Hiebert Ph.D. Dr. Hiebert is researching therapies for rhabdomyosarcoma.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is guided by a Scientific Advisory Committee, comprised of leading experts in the childhood cancer community, to ensure that every dollar makes the greatest impact for kids with cancer.
These people make us smile - they’re the doers and money-raisers on behalf of Rachael Chaffin's Research Fund. They’re shaving their heads, hosting events, starting fundraisers and more to make childhood cancer research possible.
Start your own St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event to raise money on behalf of our Hero Fund! You’ll be paired with a staff member who will walk you through every step of the process, and you’ll have fun knowing you’re doing a great thing for kids with cancer.
Register to shave your head and raise money for our Hero Fund at any St. Baldrick’s event happening around the world! Not finding an event near you? Register as a virtual shavee and shave your head anytime, anywhere.