As you have probably noticed by now, I’ve been blogging a lot about childhood cancer awareness. My posts so far on the subject have been prompted by calls to action from Rockstar Ronan. Ronan Thompson died from neuroblastoma when he was four years old. His mother, Maya, has made it her life’s mission to raise awareness for childhood cancer issues. These efforts include a petition to President Obama to light the White House gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, similar to what they do in October for breast cancer awareness. In my last post, I mentioned that Ronan’s foundation had asked for photo submissions from adult cancer survivors stating their support of the White House effort for use in a social media campaign. Over the weekend, I did just that.
However, what I really wanted to do today was spotlight a good friend of mine, Will Monson. Will is an extraordinary example of how there are everyday things people can do to make a huge difference in the world. Will happens to be very passionate about several cancer related issues. Will donates blood approximately five-six times a year. Over the years we estimate that he has donated a minimum of 20 pints of blood, and has donated platelets about eight-nine times. As the universal donor (AB+), Will’s commitment to blood and platelet donation is incredibly helpful to patients undergoing cancer treatments and others that are in need. Over the past three years, Will has also become involved with an amazing organization called St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a foundation that raises awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.
In his own words, Will explains more about his relationship with St. Baldrick’s.
Team Hairy Shearers
It’s funny how quickly one can bathe when you don’t have any hair. Yet every March I reduce my normal 15 minute shower by half. This hairless journey is because of a program called St. Baldrick’s.
St. Baldrick’s is a charity that raises money to fund childhood cancer research. However they have a unique way of raising money. Throughout the year, various cities host a sponsored shaving of people. Teams and individuals put their follicles on the chopping block to show their solidarity for young children who lost their’s through cancer treatments.
Three years ago, I was sitting in a dive of a bar with a few of my friends. Through the course of the evening and after many quips of playful insults and colorful banter, my friend Geoff mentioned he only gets one haircut a year. This notion seemed absurd to me. Geoff is the pinnacle of computer programmers. Skinny, lanky, glasses, and a mop of a haircut. Upon hearing this, I was in no bit surprised at his omission, to which I suggest it was his yearly flowbee hair cut. Yet to my surprise, he simply said he was shaving it bald.
Over the course of a PBR, a high scale specimen of beer, Geoff recounted how over the past three years, he has participated in this program. He talked about how his friend and he have been slowly raising more and more money for this charity– St. Baldrick’s. As he told me more and more about this program, my interest peeked from being curious about donating to a desire to participate. An itch in my scalp had started (I bathe regularly so it was due to a philanthropy spirit, not for something requiring a flea bath.)
That first year was exciting. One of my closest friends, Jacob, had pulled an “i’ll do it if you do it,” and, for the record, I was already sold on the idea. Over the course of six weeks, I set out in all the social media channels to elicit donations. Facebook and Twitter was my best means of getting the word out. I had set a goal of $300 the first year in fear I was not going to raise enough. However, my career in marketing proved to be most beneficial in this.
I created a Facebook event inviting friends and family to come watch as I was being shaved. And I also asked them to buy me a beer. I figured since most of my friends were like me and didn’t make a lot, I would ask them to donate the price of one beer to my cause. By my calculations, if I could get 60 people to give $5 that they would have spent on a beer, I would have more than enough to hit my $300 goal. This proved to be exceptionally successful. Not only did I raise my goal, but I passed it by over $135. And, with the other members of Team Hairy Shearers, we raised over $2,500. By the way, all of the guys on my team are avid Simpsons fans and chose to name the team after the long time voice actor from the Simpsons and New Orleans native Harry Shearer.
Well, the big day came and four of us with shaggy mops of hairstyles showed up for St. Baldrick’s. It was interesting how nervous I can get just before I have my head shaved, but I think it was just stage fright. However, as soon as my name was called to be shaved, all my apprehension and nerves disappeared. My fear of looking silly bald was gone. It was in sitting in that chair knowing that I had helped raise money for the fight of cancer in children that calmed me. And my fears of how I would look bald had melted away knowing I could choose to not shave where others were not so fortunate. After that, I haven’t looked back and I look forward to doing St. Baldrick’s every year.
So next time you sit in a bar with some friends, please think about buying me a beer and donate 5 bucks.