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Students go bald for charity

Mel Flanagan | Thursday, April 14, 2011


Despite her profession’s affinity for hair, Angie Paris, a hairdresser at University Hair Stylists, decided to shave her head today for The Bald & the Beautiful: ND Fights Cancer.
“I feel like God planted it in my heart and I started to think about it,” Paris said. “I asked myself ‘Are you sure about this?’ and I prayed about it, and I just feel like it’s something I should do.”
The Bald & the Beautiful — sponsored by the Class of 2012, student government, Circle K and Pangborn, Duncan and Badin Halls — is Notre Dame’s third annual head-shaving event to raise money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity committed to cancer research funding. The event kicked off Wednesday and will continue through Friday.
Former Hall President’s Council co-chair Mike Oliver said 800 people participated in last year’s event, which raised over $41,500. This year, the goal is set at $60,000.
Student body president emeritus Catherine Soler said the committee aimed to incorporate a variety of different organizations into this year’s event, including class councils, residence halls and athletic teams.
“I think internally we’ve gotten a lot more people involved and that’s been great to spread it through the dorms and through campus,” she said. “It’s just as much an awareness event as a fundraiser — all of ND coming together for one cause.”
Soler said Paris is among a number of non-students participating in the effort. 
Paris is shaving her head in solidarity with children affected by cancer. As a volunteer for beYOUtiful, a local initiative working with middle school girls to develop a healthy conception of “true beauty,” Paris said shaving her head also offers a unique opportunity to further beYOUtiful’s cause.
“I’m excited about the platform this has given me,” she said. “I’m excited to share my testimony with [the girls] and show them that it’s not always going to be perfect and pretty.”
Junior center Mike Golic said he and fellow teammate Dayne Crist have been involved with The Bald & the Beautiful for the past three years.
“We’re actually on the committee that sets this event up and gets everything together,” Golic said. “Just being out here and being around these kids that we’re trying to help through it all — this is really what makes it worth it.”
Golic said about 45 members of the football team are shaving their heads this year. Next year the team hopes to win over another participant.
“Today we got the big commitment from Coach Kelly,” he said. “Once we get the win for a BCS bowl game this year, he’ll shave his head at the event next year.”
Oliver said this event holds a special meaning for his dorm, Duncan Hall.
“After my freshman year one of our classmates, Sam Marks, passed away from cancer,” he said. “Duncan takes this event and tries to have a big participation in it.”
Oliver said St. Baldrick’s gave great support to Marks’ family during his time in chemotherapy and Marks was a huge advocate for the foundation.
Last year, 45 members of Duncan shaved their heads. This year, Oliver said the goal is for 60 residents to participate and raise a total of $10,000. 
“It helps that my rector gave us an incentive,” Oliver said. “If we got 60 guys and $10,000, then he would shave his head also.”
Saint Mary’s College sophomore Kasey Coonan will be shaving her head in honor of her family members who have been affected by cancer.
“My aunt had ovarian cancer a couple years back, and I saw the struggles she had to go through and how she found strength and it was something I admired in her,” she said. “I also have two other family members who had to go through radiation for cancer.”
Coonan said her relatives’ trials prompted her to take part in the fundraiser.  
“I’m very enthusiastic about it. I have a lot of support from all my friends,” she said. “I love talking about it and I don’t think I’ll be nervous until I face the clippers.”
Paris said she has become nervous in recent weeks but knows shaving her head will be a unique chance to step out of her comfort zone.
“We’re all pretty attached to our hair,” she said. “It’s definitely going to be a learning experience.”
Students who will not be shaving their heads but still want to contribute to the event can donate eight inches of their hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths or buy a colored hair extension to benefit Memorial Hospital in South Bend.
Soler said event organizers decided to donate to Memorial Hospital because students at Notre Dame have worked with children in the hospital’s pediatric outpatient program. Children from the hospital and their families are invited to attend the event.
“When the kids come here they’re seeing people celebrate St. Baldrick’s, but it’s also going back to them,” she said. “This year we made sure the kids were invited early, the families knew and that the football players were coming at the same time.”
The staff of the hospital is involved as well. Soler said the head pediatric oncologist will speak at the event. In addition, this year one of the nurses is shaving her head while the children are present.
Soler said The Bald and the Beautiful will offer eight different color hair extensions, each representing a different type of cancer. 
They are also serving free dinner each night of the event, donated from Fiddler’s Hearth and Maury’s Pub. The Bald and the Beautiful will continue today from 4 to 10 p.m. and Friday from 4 to 8:30 p.m. in the Sorin and Dooley Rooms of LaFortune.