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Professor shaves head to support cancer fundraiser

Dan Brombach | Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Bald and the Beautiful doesn’t officially begin until April 18, but Notre Dame biology professor David Veselik has already started raising cancer awareness on campus.

For the second straight year, Veselik shaved his head Tuesday in hopes of boosting enthusiasm about the upcoming Bald and the Beautiful event, which supports cancer research by raising funds for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Memorial Hospital of South Bend.

Veselik said he shaved his head during his regularly scheduled cell biology lecture to motivate his students to contribute to the event.

“My objective is hopefully to inspire my students and others to get involved, to either participate or donate,” Veselik said.  “I think the students really get excited and get into it.”

As collection buckets were passed around the room, Veselik said he and three of his students shaved their heads, with one of the students even shaving his eyebrows as well.

Veselik said he first decided to shave his head after a student suggested the idea last year.

“We worked out a plan for me to shave my head in the classroom as kind of an early kick-off to the Bald and the Beautiful,” Veselik said.

As a graduate of the University, Veselik said his connection to the student body inspires him to contribute to student causes in any way possible.

“I definitely feel a special connection to Notre Dame undergraduates,” Veselik said.  “If I can help them out in any way or in any cause, I try.”

Veselik said he is motivated to raise cancer funding and awareness by his involvement in cancer research, the memory of cancer victims and the future health of his children.

“I have three kids of my own, so it makes the whole thing more real. It definitely motivates you more in a way,” he said.

Veselik said he plans to shave his head in upcoming years, and is already brainstorming ways to make build on his participation this year.

“I definitely want to continue it, and I’m thinking of new ideas to make it bigger and better, to make more money and get more people involved,” Veselik said.

Now in its fourth year, the Bald and the Beautiful event has raised a total $115,000 since its inception in 2009, according to the event’s website.

Senior Catherine Soler has been involved with the event since it began her freshman year. She said the Bald and the Beautiful is a great opportunity to unite the Notre Dame community in the fight against cancer.

“The spirit of camaraderie during the Bald and the Beautiful is inspiring, and we hope it creates a feeling of optimism for finding a cure,” Soler said.

For Notre Dame students considering participation in the Bald and the Beautiful this year, Soler said they should not let fear hold them back from participating in a uniquely-rewarding experience.

“Everyone who comes to this event, even if they’re too nervous to shave or to cut their hair, walks away finding that they’ve gained more than they’ve given up,” she said.