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Razors buzzed and hair flew for a good cause as 52 people shaved their heads to help raise awareness for childhood cancer. More than a dozen USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital employees made the decision to shed their locks and stand in solidarity with those battling diseases that don’t yet have cures. At least $18,000 was raised to fund childhood cancer research in the days leading up to the event.
Kim Thompson-Yates, who leads the Mapp Family and Child Life Program at Children’s & Women’s, decided to brave the shave for the second time on Sunday after watching teenage girls battling cancer lose their hair. “They inspire me,” she said. “It can challenge your self confidence but it can also be liberating.”
Every three minutes somewhere in the world a child is diagnosed with cancer, according to St. Baldrick’s Foundation. While success rates for treating many childhood cancers have dramatically improved in the last 50 years, there are still miles to go when it comes to funding research.
On Sunday, a crowd of more than 200 gathered to watch friends, family and coworkers reveal their scalps to the world. Eight professional stylists stood behind participants and shaved off their hair in unison. Then, another group would decorate the freshly shorn heads with a rainbow of colorful powders. To add to the festivities, fairytale princesses, Dogwood Trail Maids and more than a dozen Star Wars characters attended, posing for photos and even dancing to the Village People’s classic hit YMCA.
Many of those who couldn’t leave their hospital rooms peered down from windows above the courtyard, watching the scene. Some in the audience brushed away tears as the first round of participants lost their hair.
Renee Rogers, nurse manager of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and her husband, Bruce, held hands as their heads were shaved. Bruce finished first and pointed to his wife and grinned as she clasped some of her dark brown locks in her lap.
The couple said they are grateful for healthy children and grandchildren and want to recognize the need for more research in a bold way. “We have been blessed,” Renee Rogers said.
Beth Abston’s children, and her husband, Rusty, watched as she said goodbye to her shoulder-length brown hair Sunday afternoon. Abston is a Child Life Specialist at the hospital. She works every day with children who have been diagnosed with a number of debilitating illnesses including many forms of cancer.
"If kids can go through it without complaining,” she said of losing their hair, “then we should be able to do it, too. I told my children we were doing this to show the kids who had to lose their hair to treatment it was going to be OK.”
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