A giant sign that read “Take Childhood Back From Cancer” hung on the staircase above four chairs covered in green tarps at the front end of the Lower Level of the John A. Barone Campus Center on Friday, April 12. Around 1 p.m., students and members of the local community gathered to shave their heads for the annual Brave the Shave event organized by the Students for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Fairfield.
Tables overflowing with pizza and snacks, a Fairfield University backdrop for before and after pictures, music, a raffle table with Clam Jam tickets and a signed Jet’s poster, all filled the LLBCC to actively include students at the event and as an attempt to further raise money to fight childhood cancer.
Local stylists from Sport Clips and Alchemy Salon volunteered to shave heads for the event.
Senior Robert Stewart, vice president of the Students for St. Baldrick’s Club, explained that their overall goal this year was to raise as much money as they could for childhood cancer research.
“Never have we ever reached our goal before the event until this year. I had to personally bump the event goal two times already.” Stewart shared. “Original goal was $8,000. I bumped it to $10,000, and now I bumped it to $12,500.”
The event raised $12,508 this year so far. Stewart explained that their event page will remain open for more donations until a new page is created next year.
“My personal goal is to walk into the room and have at least 75 percent of the people know something about St. Baldrick’s. Be it, what’s the organization? What’s it for?” Stewart explained.
St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the largest non-profit organization for childhood cancer research. Stewart stated that the foundation makes up the biggest part of the actual donations towards fighting childhood cancers due to a lack in government funding.
“There is such a need for it, the funds are just not provided by anyone else.” Stewart explained, “The St. Baldrick’s Foundation really is the main pipeline from where all this money comes from for fighting childhood cancer.”
The foundation allows smaller groups to hold big Brave the Shave events to raise various amounts of money throughout the United States.
This year is the Students for St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s fourth year on campus as a club. However, it is their third official Brave the Shave event. From starting out four years ago in the old Oak Room, the Brave the Shave event found its way to the Lower Level.
“What we are doing is important and it really does matter. It makes a difference,” explained Stewart.
The biggest highlight of the event was special guest, Jennifer Socci, a local eleven year old who raised $3,080.60 for the event this year. She attended with her family and sister, Mary, who is currently battling brain cancer. Jennifer bravely mounted the stage and shaved off her long brown hair in front of a room full of college students, staff and faculty.
Junior Emily Schofield and Stasia Rispoli ‘22 were confident that the event would have a big turnout and that they would exceed their fundraising goal.
Rispoli said, “I think today’s gonna be a really great day. We have a little girl here who is shaving her head for her sister who is currently battling brain cancer. That’s amazing.”
Rispoli also shared her own experience in which she had lost her sister to childhood brain cancer.
Sophomore Michael Cottam was one of the first people to shave their head.
“Personally, we had a family friend when I was younger who battled childhood cancer for four years,” Cottam said. “Luckily, he is surviving and well now, but his mom and all of them last year shaved their head for it. I thought if I could raise money for a good cause, why not?”
After he had shaved his head, Stewart explained how happy and accomplished he felt with the turnout of this years event. “It feels good, it feels really good.” He continuously shared his gratitude to all those who participated and donated to make the event a success.
For people who are nervous about shaving their head, donating their hair, or on the fence about donating, Stewart says, “When people ask me if I’m sure, I’ll say, I have a choice. I have a choice, and these kids don’t.”
To those interested in donating to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, visit their website here: