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St. Baldrick’s volunteers go bald for children

Katie Phernetton, Life Writer
February 27, 2013
Filed under Life, Top Stories

Tears, laughter, love and hope will fill Preble High School March 9 as many members of the community come together for the sixth St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event.

The volunteer-driven St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants. Around 100 volunteers will set up and clean up as well as help during the event. UW-Green Bay volunteers are also welcome.

Thirteen years ago in Manhattan, an idea was sparked to raise money for the Children’s Oncology Group. St. Patrick’s Day 2000, 19 people joined to raise more than $100,000 and shave their heads.

This event has grown to be a nationwide fundraiser, and last year the St. Baldrick’s Foundation reached the $100 million mark with thousands of people shaving their heads.

David Scheuer, one of the event organizers, said right nowthe Green Bay event has just more than 100 people signed up to shave their heads. This number usually reaches 300 the day of the event.

“It shows how much people care and want to come together for a great cause,” said Miranda Metzler, an area high school student.  “When thousands of people volunteer to shave their heads and raise money for cancer research, I don’t think they realize how much they are truly doing for kids like us.”

Metzler hasn’t only sat in the barber chair but has also fought childhood cancer. The year Metzler was diagnosed, her family, friends and teachers formed a team for St. Baldrick’s in her honor.

“At the time of St. Baldrick’s that year, I barely had any hair left,” Metzler said. “I wasn’t that comfortable with the idea of being bald. Seeing my brothers and the rest of the team, especially the woman who supported me, shave their heads really showed me how much I am truly loved and supported.”

Metzler’s brother, Thomas, was one of the team members to have his head shaved.

“While I was getting my hair cut off I felt very connected with Mir,” Thomas said. “I’m just glad I could support my sister who is lucky enough to be a cancer survivor and not a victim.”

Aside from head shaving, the event will have raffle prizes, a silent auction and speakers.

The speakers are parents, who share stories of their children who have fought the battle of childhood cancer.

“It’s a great fundraiser that’s really needed,” said Paula Lietzke, a St. Baldrick’s volunteer whose son is a cancer survivor.

Her son started with a 50 percent chance of survival, and now he is five years off treatment. Her family started getting involved during the end of her son’s treatments. She said it’s overwhelming to hear the stories  other people will tell during the event.

“It brings me back to the moment when Nolan was on treatment and how hard it is,” Lietzke said. “It’s nice to raise money to raise a cure or just better treatment options.”

Carolyn Johnson, one of the event organizers, has had two of her daughters battle childhood cancer. One lost the battle.

“I have a hard time listening to others share their stories,” Johnson said. “However, I think it is important that the parents share their child’s story so that the public is aware of the lack of funding for research.”

According to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website, all types of childhood cancers combined receive 4 percent of the U.S. federal funding for cancer.

“It’s up to us to try to raise awareness of that lack of funding and raise funds,” Johnson said.

She believes the new advances made in treating childhood cancer is what helped one of her daughters survive.

Both Scheuer and Lietzke said they enjoy the time following the event, when the people who shaved their heads can be seen out in the community.

“Instead of just giving money, you make a statement,” Lietzke said. “It’s an obvious thing that gets people talking. It lasts. You can run a race, but then it’s over. When you shave your hair off it, lasts a while.”

Though the head shaving is the most recognizable way to support the event, volunteers are needed for all areas.

“If there are people out there who have been touched by cancer,” Scheuer said, “we strongly encourage their support and participation.”

To get involved in the Preble High School event, contact Dave Scheuer at  dscheuer@bsagb.com

For those who can’t make the March 9 event, visit stbaldricks.org to find others in the area.

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