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Students shave their heads for a cure

Sara Felsenstein | Thursday, April 22, 2010

When freshman Brigid Halloran first saw the ad for The Bald and the Beautiful, she decided to shave her head in support of cancer research — and never thought twice about it.

“I lost a friend to cancer earlier this year. She was special to so many people and is missed dearly everyday,” Halloran said. “So when I saw the ad for The Bald and The Beautiful, I committed myself to shaving my head … It was a natural, very easy decision.”

The Bald & the Beautiful: ND Fights Cancer is a campus-wide event hosted by the Class of 2012 and sponsored by Fiddler’s Hearth. The event began Wednesday and will run until the Blue-Gold Game Saturday, raising donations for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for Cancer Research.

Last year, 140 men and women from the Notre Dame community participated in the event to raise $26,500 for childhood cancer research.

Student body president Catherine Soler said she hope to raise $30,000 this year.
“Currently, 90 people are signed up to shave their heads, but that’s not including the 25 walk-ins we had today and the 40 football players,” she said.

Soler said three of the 90 signed up are women.

Although many girls cringe at the thought of a head without hair to straighten or curl each day, Halloran knew her contribution to cancer research, as well as the opportunity to commemorate a dear friend, would make every last strand worth it.

“I am not nervous at all! It is, after all, just hair,” she said. “Over 160,000 children are diagnosed with some form of cancer every year. Their cause is certainly more important than my ‘daily do.'”

Former Irish defensive back Mike Anello has also taken the cause into his own hands, donating his hair and hours of time to creating a video blog at mikeanello.com.

“I started doing [the blog] a month and a half to two months ago. I wanted to get a few episodes up first, so people could come to the site and watch more than one video,” Anello said.

Anello rallied nearly 30 team members to shave their heads, as well as people across the country to donate to his cause.

“It’s been cool seeing that the donations have been coming from across the country,” Anello said. “I’ve had 9,000 people come to the site in the last three weeks.”

Irish football players Tom Burke, Raeshon McNeil, John Ryan and Sam Young, as well as women’s soccer players Courtney Rosen and Kelsey Lysander, joined Anello in a visit to the Pediatric Oncology ward of Memorial Hospital on Tuesday.

Anello said the time spent with those children was extremely rewarding, and he hopes to visit them again.

“It was amazing interacting with the kids. After what they’ve gone through, they still have a smile on their face,” Anello said.

On Wednesday, Anello reached his personal goal of raising $5,000 for cancer research. He decided to set a new goal of raising $10,000 by Saturday, when the fundraising comes to a close at the Blue-Gold Game.  

In addition to shaving heads, students can also contribute to the cause by donating eight inches of hair to make wigs for cancer patients, purchasing dinners from Fiddler’s Hearth in the LaFortune Ballroom or purchasing colored hair extensions.

Twenty-five Welsh Family residents have signed up for hair extensions in support of sophomore Kelsey Thrasher, a cancer survivor.

For some, donating hair at The Bald and the Beautiful is an emotional experience.

The devastating effects of cancer have hit close to home for Halloran, so her experience with The Bald and the Beautiful thus far has been a personal one. Halloran said she is grateful for the overwhelming support friends, family and teachers have offered.

“I have been extremely humbled by their giving hearts and caring spirits,” she said. “A renewed sense of hope has been the greatest blessing of this experience. It proves that greatness can come from the tragedy of my friend’s death.”

The Bald and the Beautiful will continue today and tomorrow from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Sorin and Dooley rooms of LaFortune. For more information about the event, or to offer donations, visit https://sites. google.mom/a/nd.edu/ ndclass12/