by Janice Limbaugh
On a typical Sunday, you won’t find Chubby’s Bar and Grill off Byron Center in Wyoming open for business. It’s the one day of the week they’re closed. On one Sunday recently, they weren’t open so much for business but for hosting a great charity – The St. Baldrick’s Foundation and their annual fundraiser for childhood cancer research.
Over 60 volunteers stepped up to have their heads shaved in solidarity with kids with cancer, 17 of them deciding on the spot that afternoon. “This feels weird,” was the common phrase heard among newly sheared participants milling throughout the crowd. “What the heck – it’ll grow back,” was the other general consensus.
According to Patrick Schrager, the foundation’s volunteer event organizer, the day’s activities “went way beyond expectations!”
“So far, we’ve raised over 35,000 dollars and the money is still coming in,” says a jubilant Schrager.
Having relocated to Byron Center with his family last fall from Indiana, this was Schrager’s first coordinated St. Balderick’s fundraiser in the greater Grand Rapids area. Although he didn’t know what type of turnout to expect, Schrager said he knew the community was supportive of the pediatric oncology program at DeVos Children’s Hospital, and hoped the two organizations together would make a positive impact. The hospital has received two grants from the St. Balderick’s Foundation in recent years to help support the Innovative Therapeutics Clinic in pediatric oncology, helping children with cancer find new therapies.
St. Balderick’s signature head-shaving fundraiser is held once a year in conjunction with a silent auction and raffle.
Cathy Wells of Zeeland said her passion for children with cancer prompted her to shave her head. “My hair grows really fast. I’ll do anything I can to help a child!”
Originally Wells set of goal of raising $1000 for childhood cancer research but exceeded that amount by over $500. It seemed that every freshly shaven head in the room had similar success stories.
Meanwhile, when they could spare a moment from serving the crowd, Chubby’s owners, Audrey Houseman and Vicki Terry, watched in amazement as the whole effort unfolded.
“We were a little bit leery at first when a customer approached us about hosting it,” says Houseman. “We don’t want the public to think that we’re open on Sunday because we aren’t!”
“But we decided ‘Let’s do it!’ and we are quite impressed and glad to be a part of it,” Terry added.
Since 2005, St. Balderick’s Foundation has committed more than $125 million to lifesaving research, $22 million in funding childhood cancer research in 2013. The foundation funds local institutions as well as cooperative research on a national scale to help doctors work together to develop the best treatments for all children with cancer. Anyone interested in becoming involved as a volunteer, can contact Pat Schrager through email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about St. Baldrick’s Foundation go to: www.stbaldricks.org/