Students brave the shave as Quinnipiac hosts its 10th annual St. Baldrick's fundraiser

Quinnipiac University’s Burt Kahn court was abuzz with anticipation, excitement and electric razors Monday night as students piled in to watch their friends lose their locks for Quinnipiac’s 10th annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser.

SPB invited students to shave their heads for a good cause as it hosted its 10th annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser.

SPB invited students to shave their heads for a good cause as it hosted its 10th annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser.

“Apart from it being a really good cause and a really good organization, I like this look, so if I can do it and do it for a great cause? Yeah, I’m 100% here,”  senior John Ferraro said.

St. Baldrick’s is a nonprofit organization that was founded on July 4, 1999, by three entrepreneurs as a way to pay it forward by providing research funding exclusively for childhood cancer.

The foundation’s inaugural event was hosted on St. Patrick’s Day 2000. In just one day $104,000 was raised by 19 shavees.

The past two decades have seen over 4,000 St. Baldrick’s events take place worldwide and nearly 200,000 individuals have “rocked the bald” in solidarity with children fighting cancer. Since its founding, St. Baldrick’s has raised over $258 million, funding extensive research and even breakthroughs. According to the foundation’s website, 2015 research supported by St. Baldrick’s led to the creation of an FDA approved a drug that drastically increased the cure rate for children suffering from high-risk neuroblastoma.

2018-2019 St. Baldrick's Battle of the Bald Participants

Over 100 campuses across the country are also hosting a St. Baldrick's event in the 2018-2019 school year. According to the St. Baldrick's Foundation, together they have raised $783,746.

Since 2009 when Quinnipiac’s Student Programming Board (SPB) first teamed up with St. Baldrick’s, it’s held a fundraiser and hosted a head-shaving event as an opportunity for students to get involved and give back.

Three shavees lose their locks at Monday night’s event.

Three shavees lose their locks at Monday night’s event.

“All students are welcome...we have seats set up so we can watch students get their heads shaved as a little spectacle, but it’s really just an easygoing event,”  said Emma Shipton, a member of SPB and chairperson for the event.

Shipton had never taken part in a St. Baldrick’s event before and was relatively unfamiliar with the foundation prior to taking on the role of event chair.

Emma Shipton shortly after she participated in the head-shaving event.

Emma Shipton shortly after she participated in the head-shaving event.

“This is actually my first year hosting it, and it’s also the first time I’ve ever been able to attend, but SPB has been involved all 10 years,” Shipton said. “It’s really exciting to be part of an event that’s become part of Quinnipiac’s tradition.”

Although the head-shaving showcase is the hallmark of the St. Baldrick’s foundation, SPB seeks to remind students that they don’t have to go bald to be involved. From joining a fundraising team to making an individual donation, there are many ways to participate.

A few students took it upon themselves to go above and beyond. In addition to shaving his head, Luke Ahearn was also this year’s top fundraiser.

“I would post on my Facebook page and Instagram to let people know what’s happening and to ask them to donate to St. Baldrick’s foundation,”  Ahearn said. “I also would go around and just use word of mouth, ‘Hey, St. Baldrick’s is coming up, please donate or sign up.’”

His hard work paid off as Ahearn was able to single-handedly raise $575 in donations for the organization.

“I thankfully have never felt any direct connection to childhood cancer, but I’ve had friends who’ve been close to people who’ve had to deal with childhood cancer,”  Ahearn said. “[St. Baldrick’s] really made me understand that I can do something to help out those kids, and that’s why I got involved.”

Ahearn has been raising money and shaving his head for the St. Baldrick’s foundation since his freshman year. Now a junior, he decided to take on a brand new role by asking SPB if he could assist in the execution of the event.

“I’m glad this year I’ve gotten to play a larger role by putting on the event as well as shaving my head and raising money,” Ahearn said. “SPB does a ton of work to make sure this event runs smoothly, so a ton of credit goes to them.”

Of this year’s dozens of contributors, who collectively raised over $3,000, eight were fundraising teams.

Members of Quinnipiac’s theater group, brothers of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity and residents of Quinnipiac’s York Hill campus, among others, worked collaboratively to fundraise for the event.

New Blue Rugby was the most successful fundraising team, collecting nearly $800 in donations. On the team since his freshman year, Ahearn said that the St. Baldrick’s fundraiser is something he and his teammates look forward to each year.

“Every year [New Blue Rugby] has had pretty good participation,” Ahearn said. “Usually it’s something that everybody who’s new to our team does. They all do it together and it’s a good bonding opportunity for a lot of the guys, both going through the head shaving together and getting to give back to a really good cause.”

Ahearn and his teammates appeared to have no qualms about shaving their heads. Others, like Emma Shipton, were a bit more troubled about trading in their tresses.

“My director is shaving his head and he’s pretty much convinced me that I should be shaving my head too,” said Shipton. “I think I will.”

And she did. Months of effort and fundraising on the part of SPB and dozens of students culminated in Shipton, Ahearn and several others shaving their heads to thunderous applause,  proving that bald is, in fact, beautiful.