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TBAB supports cancer research for 6th year in a row

| Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In 2009, 140 Notre Dame students participated in the first iteration of The Bald and the Beautiful (TBAB). Since then, senior and co-chair Frank Soler said the event has grown exponentially in size.

“Students, faculty, members of the South Bend community and many other staff members participate in TBAB,” Soler said. “With close to 300 shaves per year and close to 2,000 participants in six years, TBAB continues to expand throughout the ND community.”

Soler said his sister, junior Catherine Soler, and her friend from Duncan Hall started TBAB in response to a Notre Dame student they knew who died from cancer. In his memory, TBAB raises funds and awareness for cancer research.

Former Notre Dame student Colleen Boyle gets her head shaved at last year’s The Bald and the Beautiful event. The club raises funds and spreads awareness for cancer research, with nearly 300 shaves per year.Observer File Photo

Former Notre Dame student Colleen Boyle gets her head shaved at last year’s The Bald and the Beautiful event. The club raises funds and spreads awareness for cancer research, with nearly 300 shaves per year.

“The event has two beneficiaries, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which supports pediatric cancer research, and Memorial Hospital, who cares for those inflicted with pediatric cancer right in our community of South Bend,” Soler said. “The money that goes to St. Baldrick’s is used to help fund their existing charity work, while Memorial has used the money to fund a new oncology renovation, which will help patients live more comfortably and fight their diseases with the newest technologies and medical care.”

Soler said every year, roughly 100 girls show their solidarity in the fight against cancer by donating their hair.

“Each year, we have close to 100 girls who generously donate their hair for Pantene Beautiful Lengths,” he said. “Additionally, we even have a few girls shave their heads. If girls don’t want to get their hair cut, every girl can get a hair extension, which is a great way to support and show solidarity.”

Soler said planning the event is an ongoing commitment by the organization’s members.

“We are continually confirming commitments for the next year from all sponsors, donors and participants,” Soler said. “As co-chairs, we are constantly in contact over the summer and throughout the semester.

TBAB hopes to raise a record amount of money this year, he said.

“TBAB has averaged anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 each year,” Soler said. “This year, especially after partnering with Notre Dame Baseball who fundraised over $18,000 in February, we’re hoping to make a TBAB record and raise $70,000.”

TBAB recently became an official club whose members help run the event, junior member Amanda Buerger said.

“The members of The Bald and the Beautiful work before the event and the day of the event to make sure that everything runs smoothly,” Buerger said. “A lot of work goes into making this event successful, from ordering the extensions, getting volunteer stylists, advertising [and] having various smaller events throughout the year.”

Soler said club members were integral to the planning of TBAB.

“We couldn’t have done it without the help of our fellow club members,” Soler said. “Each Sunday afternoon of the spring semester, TBAB members gathered to discuss and plan every aspect of the event. From dorm sponsorship to stylists who volunteer their time, everyone involved in TBAB is integral to making it all work.”

Buerger said the event is powerful to witness.

“The most meaningful part of helping with TBAB is seeing the kids from Memorial come to this event,” Buerger said. “A few patients from the hospital come in each year to meet the football team and see what this event is. To get a chance to see the kids that this event is aimed to help is really special.”

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