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Football: Strength in numbers

Laura Myers | Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Junior quarterback Dayne Crist is putting his new leadership position to good use — by convincing his teammates to shave their heads to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

Crist will be one of many Irish football players to go bald today for The Bald and the Beautiful, an event sponsored by the Sophomore Class Council. Crist said he has convinced 20 to 30 players to attend the event, though not all are sure about shaving their heads.  

“We’re still working on more guys but realistically even if they’re not cutting their hair, it’s a huge way to raise money and really help out some kids that are obviously going through a very tough time,” Crist said. “We’re just trying to get as many people there as possible.

“I feel like once we get some people there that said initially they weren’t going to cut their hair and they see everyone else doing it, hopefully that gets them inspired.”
Crist, junior center Mike Golic and former Irish defensive back Mike Anello served as part of a 30-member planning committee for this year’s event. 

Sophomore class service committee member Erin Pankiw said the players contributed a lot to the planning and publicity of the four-day event, during which students can shave their heads to benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, donate eight inches of hair to Pantene Beatiful Lengths or purchase hair extensions with proceeds going to local hospitals.

“They really have been instrumental in our planning process,” Pankiw said. “We’ve had meetings once a week since October. We have really been counting on them; they have been at most meetings and gave input on how to reach out to the student body.”

She also said the football players’ involvement could increase overall turnout.

“I think that in good ways this really draws attention to this event,” Pankiw said. “I think a lot of people look up to them at this University.”

Pankiw said Crist and other members of the committee who plan to shave their heads or donate their hair visited St. Joseph’s Memorial Hospital Tuesday morning to meet some of the children currently undergoing treatment for cancer.

“You go over there and you meet some unbelievable kids and some unbelievable families,” Crist said. “It really does put everything in perspective and makes you feel very fortunate for what you have, and as an athlete you feel very blessed to play at Notre Dame and do the things you do and go to school here.”

While the event will take place in LaFortune Student Center Wednesday through Friday, Pankiw said, it will also be a part of the University-sponsored FanFest at the Irish Green. Fans who come for the Blue-Gold Game will be able to shave their heads, buy a hair extension or donate to the cause.

“[The football players] participated in the event last year and they were so excited about it,” Pankiw said. “This year they reached out to [student body president] Catherine Soler, who was a big planner for this, and said they really wanted to be involved. That’s why we coordinated the whole week around the Blue-Gold Game activities.”

Crist said senior offensive lineman Taylor Dever, who has long hair, was a hard sell but is “on board.”

While Crist has been working hard to get the football players to donate, there was one person he did not approach: Irish coach Brian Kelly.

“I wasn’t courageous enough to do that,” Crist said.