March 15, 2011

Tradition of Shaving Heads Raises $100-Million for St. Baldrick's

It's March, and for tens of thousands of people, that means it's time to go bald for St. Baldrick's Foundation.

People who shave their heads have helped raise $100-million to finance research on children's cancer since 2000.

"We're very grateful to enjoy that kind of patronage from our volunteers and donors," says Kathleen Ruddy, executive director of St. Baldrick's, a Monrovia, Calif., group. "We'd like to, within the next 10 years, be raising $100-million a year."

What began as a dare between friends on St. Patrick's Day took on a life of its own by becoming a yearly fund-raising event for more than 50,000 volunteers in 14 countries, to show solidarity with kids who have cancer.

So far this year, St. Baldrick's has already raised more than $10-million. More than 27,900 people have registered to shave their heads in 2011 at more than 800 events across the country, with about 600 of them taking place this month.

Participants take before and after photos, post their pictures online, choose a child or a group of kids to raise money for, and send a link to friends and family members to get them to donate to the cause.

Since 2005 the St. Baldrick's Foundation has given more than $57-million in childhood cancer research grants, helping to aid groups that participate in national pediatric cancer clinical trials.

Because cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children, St. Baldrick's Foundation says it's more important than ever to raise money, especially because the government has made cuts in such research.   Today, only 3 percent of the federal  cancer research budget is dedicated to pediatric cancer research.