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Fundraiser donates record amount of hair

By Charitha Isanka | Tuesday, April 23, 2013

 Last week, more than 800 Notre Dame students raised almost $30,000 for cancer research through The Bald and the Beautiful (TBAB).


  “We’ve had a record number of hair donations, which is something we are very happy about,” senior Betsy McGovern, co-chair of TBAB said. “We will be donating over 1,200 inches of hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.” 


Students participated in TBAB by purchasing hair extensions, shaving their heads or donating their hair. The fundraiser benefited St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Memorial Hospital of South Bend and Pantene Beautiful Lengths. 


 Some patients at Memorial Hospital also shaved their heads at the event, which took place over three days, McGovern said.


 “Angel is a seven-year-old patient at Memorial who came with his family to shave his head in front of a cheering crowd of Notre Dame students, including the football team,” McGovern said. “Watching Angel shave his head was one of the most exciting moments [of the event].”


 Senior Caitlin Desmond, co-chair of TBAB, said having families from Memorial Hospital attend the event added to the atmosphere and overall meaning of the fundraiser.


“When planning such a large event like TBAB, sometimes you lose sight of the greater impact it has and the people it touches,” Desmond said. “When families from Memorial Hospital came, it reminded me of the real cause and the importance of this event.” 


 Senior Michael Petravick, finance co-chair of TBAB, said the event raised almost $30,000 and the committee will continue to accept donations until May 1. The money from the hair extensions will go to Memorial’s pediatric oncology unit and donations from the head-shaving will go to the St. Baldrick›s Foundation’s pediatric cancer research. 


 “Although we fell short of our monetary fundraising goals, reaching participation records tells us that TBAB is becoming a more influential and prominent event on [the Notre Dame] campus every year,” McGovern said. “Over 500 people came for hair extensions and close to 400 heads were shaved, reaching double digits for female participants.


 “I love seeing all the bald heads on campus.”


 McGovern said she believes social media played a major role in this year’s large turnout.


 “Several of the shavees [including one woman] found out about TBAB through our Twitter and Facebook accounts and through one of our four clips on local news channels,” McGovern said.


 Petravick said TBAB will become more sustainable and continue to be a tradition in many dorms as the committee works to receive club status.


 “With multiple dorms participating, many students come to know of the event as a dorm tradition and want to continue building community by participating alongside their friends,” he said.


 Desmond said she believes people choose to participate in the fundraiser because it is almost impossible not to be affected by cancer in some way.


 “I think people choose to participate in TBAB because at some point cancer impacts our lives, whether it is through a relative, friend or classmate.” Desmond said. “So, by donating money and participating in the event, it brings a sense of solidarity with those going through treatments.”


 Shelly Frantz, an Elkhart, Ind., resident and one of the female shavees, said this event was the first step in her long-term goal to fight cancer.


 “Everyone I know knows someone with cancer,” Frantz said. “Wouldn’t it be great to raise children who barely know what cancer is? Maybe it doesn’t seem possible, but what if it is? And what if you doing just a little something can help cure it? Well, those are the questions I asked myself and that is why I shaved my head on Friday. 


“It was truly one of the best experiences of my life. It won’t stop here for me either.”


 Frantz said everyone who attended the event was very supportive and she hopes to encourage others to get involved with the fundraiser next year.


 “Having a bunch of guys chant your name while you get your head shaved is priceless,” Frantz said.  “I really hope the community of South Bend gets more involved next year and I would love to do whatever I can to help create more awareness and participation outside of campus.”

Contact Charitha Isanaka at [email protected]