Every three minutes, one child around the world is diagnosed with cancer. In the United States, 1 in every 285 will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20. This was just one shocking statistic I found on St. Baldrick’s website. The St. Baldrick’s foundation raises money specifically for childhood cancer research. But why childhood cancer? Here’s why: the average lifespan of an adult is 76 years. A child who’s diagnosed with cancer would lose, on average, 71 years of life compared to an adult who is diagnosed with cancer losing an average of nine years. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, alarmed by this simply unfair statistic, decided to take a stand. More than 15 years later, they’ve become the second largest non-profit funding childhood cancer research. So how do they raise all of this money? It all comes down to shaving heads. Sound crazy? Read on.
My journey with The St. Baldrick’s Foundation started three years ago when one of my close friends had a family friend diagnosed with childhood cancer at the age of four. I jumped at the chance to support my friend with his goal. We began to gather a small army of six, calling ourselves “Best Buds Balding for Baldrick’s.” The way it all works is that participants raise money by volunteering to shave their heads in an act of solidarity against cancer. We immediately set out to raise as much money as possible by asking folks to sponsor us by making donations online. In our first year, we raised almost $6,000 (Grandma really helped boost our numbers), which was more than we ever thought possible. Since then, we have been shaving our heads every year to support kids with cancer.
Over the years, we’ve grown our team little by little, with each year being more inspirational than the last. I have never seen people with more compassion and commitment than the strong people I have seen and met at St. Baldrick’s events. My first year I watched a 35-year old woman with a foot and a half of hair go bald for the cause. It was one of my most humanizing experiences to date. In order to meet the challenge, “The Buds” decided that we should add some length in order to show our commitment. We all started growing out our hair at different times throughout the year. For me, it usually starts around Christmas but one of my teammates hasn’t had a haircut, besides the one he receives at the St. Baldrick’s event, in two whole years! His hair isn’t always the most beautiful, but it gives him the opportunity to share with others a cause so near and dear to his heart.
When I joined Bandwidth, I immediately recognized a culture built upon helping employees to be GREAT people mentally, physically, and spiritually. So I thought, who better to share this event with, than a company that strives to encourage greatness? So I pitched the idea to create a Bandwidth St. Baldrick’s team. The response was more positive than I imagined, so with a resounding “yes,” we started mapping our course, creating the “Balding Bandis,” and recruiting nine others to shave alongside myself. WOW! Considering that this is our first year and with only six weeks before the event, getting nine people to volunteer (including one VERY BRAVE female) was an amazing feat—even for Bandwidth. We hope to continue to grow support for this wonderful cause and carry on this tradition for many years to come.