Dr. Michael McCue had always felt badly for the young children who had lost their hair while they were undergoing chemotherapy treatment for childhood cancers.
So when McCue saw an advertisement for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises money for childhood cancer research, he was intrigued – especially by its signature fundraiser, which is a head-shaving event.
McCue, who opened a chiropractic practice in Lawrence Township in 2008, jumped at the chance to organize a St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser in Lawrence. He has been at it ever since, even when it had to be held virtually last year because of COVID-19.
Despite the pandemic forcing Lawrence Township’s annual fundraiser to go virtual last year, McCue has set March 13 as the date for this year’s 14th annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s fundraiser – virtually, of course.
Volunteers – “shavees,” in St. Baldrick’s speak – seek pledges from supporters in exchange for shaving their heads for the fundraiser, which is timed to occur around St. Patrick’s Day in March.
Lawrence Township’s 2021 virtual head-shaving event aims to raise $25,000 in donations for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds childhood cancer research. The Lawrence head-shaving event has generated more than $1.5 million in pledges since the first one was held in 2008.
“I got involved with St. Baldrick’s because it was, and still is, a unique charity,” said McCue, who organizes the event with his wife, Melissa McCue.
“I loved the fact that it funded childhood cancer research, and that participants shave their heads in solidarity with the kids that lose their hair during treatments,” McCue said.
As the number of participants in Lawrence has grown over the years, “it has really made an impact in awareness to see everyone run around bald around the third week of March,” he said.
Although the 2021 fundraising goal is $25,000, the annual event has raised significantly more each year – and in fact, the Lawrence Township event is one of the top fundraisers in the United States, according to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
By the time last year’s fundraiser was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns, more than $114,000 had been pledged. When the last dollar was collected, the Lawrence head-shaving event generated more than $145,000.
In 2019, Lawrence shavees raised more than $159,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The shavees who took part in the 2018 fundraiser generated nearly $200,000, which was turned over to the foundation.
According to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a child is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes worldwide. In the United States, cancer kills 1 of every 5 children who have been diagnosed with the disease.
The most common childhood cancer is acute lymphoblastic leukemia, according to the foundation. Myeloid leukemia is not as common, but is more difficult to treat. Other childhood cancers include Ewing’s sarcoma, which is a bone tumor; retinoblastoma, which is a cancer of the retina of the eye; and Wilms tumor, which is a kidney cancer.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation and its head-shaving fundraiser grew out of a challenge issued by one successful businessman to his equally successful friends in 1999. He asked them what they would do to give back to the community. The men agreed to shave their heads to raise money for children with cancer. The first head-shaving fundraiser was held around St. Patrick’s Day in 2000, giving rise to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
For information about the fundraiser, visit www.stbaldricks.org