Bald and beautiful for kids
Mary Butler and Harriet Tenerelli are doing something bold and daring to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer. On March 15, these women will shave their long locks for Advocate Children’s Hospital’s St. Baldrick’s Day event in Oak Lawn, Ill. The annual event shows solidarity with children who lose their hair while undergoing treatment for cancer.
Throughout the month of March, across the nation, schools, hospitals and restaurants are hosting St. Baldrick’s Day fundraisers, doubling as barbershops where men and women have their locks clipped and shaved.
Childhood cancer rates have been rising slightly over the past few decades. And with more than 10,000 children in the United States under the age of 15 being diagnosed with cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is raising crucial funds for these kids affected by cancer.
Butler and Tenerelli are both child life specialists at Advocate Children’s Hospital, where they work with kids battling cancer every day.
Butler, a 23-year-old Palos Park resident, emphasizes that shaving her head is just a small sacrifice to make in the grand scheme of things.
“Every day I see all the different emotions and characteristics that these little heroes possess throughout their fight against cancer,” she says. “Their bravery, hope and determination to go through things that no one should have to go through are pretty amazing.” While St. Baldrick’s “shavees” have their own stories about how they’ve been touched by cancer, most participants say they want to do more than donate. They want to help find a cure, raise awareness and support patients.
“We need to find a cure, and research is how that will happen,” Tenerelli, age 28 from Orland Park, says. “I wanted to show these patients that they are not alone, and we can stand together. By having my head shaved, I hope to bring awareness and educate others about pediatric cancer and St. Baldrick’s.”
Butler agrees, saying that shaving her head will prove to be a strong visual symbol. In the long term, the money raised by these St. Baldrick’s Day events help fund advances in childhood cancer research so that kids have even more options and hope for their future, she says.
Since the St. Baldrick’s Foundation was formed in 2005, the annual program has raised more than $100 million in childhood cancer research grants. Butler and Tenerelli will be two of many participants who have raised more than $20,000 for this Saturday’s event at Advocate Children’s Hospital.
About the Author
Julie Nakis, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. She earned her BA in communications from the University of Iowa – Go Hawkeyes! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the city and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks.