Claps, high fives and proud chants echoed the room each time a set of three volunteers donated their hair. With the help of 79 of these volunteers, Alpha Omega Epsilon (AOE) hosted a successful event in effort to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, an organization that specifically obtains funding for childhood cancer research.
Event Coordinator Marissa Burchette has worked to make the event more outstanding every year. The Cone Lucas Room, where the fundraiser was held from 6 to 8:30 p.m., had a live DJ, photo booth, a jumping castle, snow cones, pizza and Chick-Fil-A for everyone that attended. In addition, the focus of the room was the stage on which the volunteers would get their hair shaved off by Sport Clips employees.
In the three years that AOE has been initiating the fundraiser, they’ve raised over $10,000 in funds to donate to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Burchette explained why her personal experiences prompted her to pioneer the event and emphasized the importance of intimately relating to the children that are fighting against cancer.
“I had a family member who has been chronically ill and I’ve witnessed what it’s like for that person to be left out because they’re not able to do things other people can do,” said Burchette. “I think the fact that with St. Baldrick’s, not only do you raise money, but you shave your head in solidarity, really hit home with me.”
St. Baldrick’s mission is to fund for the development of cancer therapy drugs for children, and the proceeds go directly into these research grants. So far, St. Baldrick’s has awarded more than $22 million in 2016.
“I think it’s great that the St. Baldrick’s especially focuses on childhood cancer and getting the word out for it,” said Madison Siler, president of Alpha Omega Epsilon and speaker at the event. “There are many other cancer foundations but most of them are adult based.”
Siler also pointed out that getting people personally engaged in the event will make a much more substantial impact than simply getting donations.
“It’s important for the college community to build awareness for the cause and get more attention drawn to it rather than to just raise money, so we try our best to make the event bigger every year,” she said.
UNC Charlotte freshman Ben Fiser, along with many other bold college students, was one of the participants that was more than willing to give away his hair for a charitable cause.
“It means a lot to contribute to such an important cause,” Fiser said. “I don’t have to go through the struggles that these children are going through, but by just shaving my head I can bring awareness and hopefully some sort of help for them.”
The top earning volunteers this year were Eric Joyce, who raised $720, Kristin Jean Randolph, who earned $550 and Gabrielle Maynard, who earned $443.
“I think people forget that it’s just hair. It doesn’t define you in any way, and it’s great when people don’t care about that and put it towards a greater cause,” Burchette said.
To make a donation to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, go to https://www.stbaldricks.org/events/mypage/11371/2016.