Commuter Jessica Russ gave up the vanity of her hair for the joy of aiding St. Baldrick’s in the ongoing fight to discover a cure for pediatric cancer on Saturday, March 16th, at Quaker Steak and Lube.
“It is a bigger impact than giving money. You give your money and it is gone. You shave your head and you are stuck with that; a reminder everyday that you did it,” Russ’ friend Amanda Murnane said.
Russ will be starting her twenty-third year of life completely bald. She is a full time student as well as a single mom to her one-year-old son. Russ chose to give up her hair after being inspired by her best friend Murnane, whose son was diagnosed with cancer at three and a half months old.
“These kids give their lives every day; I can give my hair,” Russ said.
Russ’s faith has helped and encouraged her to follow through with the tough decision of shaving her head. Russ said, “You live that Christian mentality…. There are going to be days when I am like why, but that is where God comes in. It is a discipleship to St. Baldrick’s, a discipleship to my family, a discipleship to my son, and seeing him smile is better than anything.”
Fellow co-worker of Russ, Tony Biviano, said, “I think the fact that she is doing this to help kid’s cancer is a beautiful thing. Even with her bald head, her inner beauty will still light up any room.”
This is the fourth year that St. Baldrick’s has teamed up with Quaker Steak in raising money while raising awareness about pediatric cancer. Quaker Steak alone has raised around fifteen thousand dollars over the four year span it has been hosting the event.
Spokesperson from St. Baldrick’s, Non Foltz, said, “We feel that even though it is a national thing, we are helping locally.”
St. Baldrick’s teams up with the community in reaching out to those families who have a child battling cancer. They supply teams of people that reach out to these families and provide them with love and encouragement in this difficult time.
Another aspect that St. Baldrick’s promotes is pairing up an upcoming head shaver with either a sick child or a child that has already passed. The individual shaving his or her head then makes contact with the family he or she is sponsoring and raises money specifically for them, as opposed to just cancer research in general.
Sunday, March 24th, more than eighty people had their heads shaved. The event included food, music, and inspirational speakers from St. Baldrick’s, leading up to the shaving. The more than eighty supporters attending included a “Team MU,” made up of students Summer Grier, Sione Veikoso, Samuel Erchick, and Chloe Knauer.
Patty Rhinehart is a contributing writer for the Aviso AVW.