The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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STJ goes bald, cuts hair in solidarity

A record of more than $27,000 has been raised to go toward child cancer research in events hosted by Campus Ministry.

On March 15, students, professors and administrators  either shaved their heads during the third annual St. Baldrick’s Day, or donated hair to Locks of Love.

Campus Minister Angela Seegel said at the event that she’s been happy with the financial growth St. Baldrick’s has had in the three years it’s been at the University. “The first year we raised about $15, 000,” she said. “So far we have about $22,000 and we expect that number to go up.”

Seegel praised the University’s support of the event in its three years – specifically Residence Life. “I’m proud of the way they stepped up,” she said. “They helped get the word out and have been our number one fundraiser.”

When The Torch went to print, the St. John’s chapter of the event had raised $27,900, through donations, raffles and food sold at the event. Seegel explained that all proceeds will go to research and that all the other aspects of the event, such as the food and raffles, came out of Campus Ministry’s budget or were donated.

Seegel said she expects this number to increase as people are able to still donate on St. Baldrick’s website.  The website will remain live for another six weeks, she said.

Sophomore Wayne Bryce was one of several who had his head shaved. For him, he said, St. Baldrick’s was all about solidarity, as he has friends who either have or have survived cancer.

“One of my frat brothers is a cancer survivor, and one of my friends back home has cancer and just had his head shaved,” he said. “That’s why I’m here. I’m here for them.”

Bryce said he wasn’t too sure how he would react to being bald, but didn’t let that stop him from doing what he called a good deed. “I don’t know how it’s going to turn out because I have a pretty big head,” he joked. “But I’m happy that I’m helping out.”

St. Baldrick’s is an annual event held worldwide that helps benefit child cancer research. People who want to participate in the event sign up on the official site, and encourage family and friends to donate to the cause. After fundraising, the participants have their heads shaved.

The event was co-founded by University alumnus John Bender, ’87, in 2000, who attended this year’s fundraiser. Bender said he got the motivation for creating the event after finding out that a childhood friend of his had cancer.

When Bender first brought up the idea for St. Baldrick’s to his colleagues, he said he was laughed at. “People thought we were crazy,” he said.

The goal for the first St. Baldrick’s event on March 17, 2000 was to raise $17,000, Bender explained, but ended up raising more than $100,000. After that, he said, the event had the full support of people who originally thought he was crazy. “All of a sudden people wanted to be our best friends,” he said

The event has since gone international with hundreds of events going on every year. St. Baldrick’s was brought to the University in 2010.

Senior Maria Meinerding was one of several women who had their head completely shaved. Meinerding said she considered participating in St. Baldrick’s before, and she was here for her grandmother who passed away from cancer.

When asked how she thought people would react to her being bald, Meinerding said she didn’t seem too concerned. “We’ll see what happens,” she said.

Some, however, did not go completely bald, and went with Locks of Love, which donates hair to make wigs for patients going through chemotherapy.

Junior Lauren Smyth took part in her second Locks of Love event, cutting off ten inches of her hair – the minimum length to participate. Smyth explained that it was personal for her, because she witnessed a relative lose her hair because of cancer treatment. “I actually saw my aunt had to have her head shaved because of chemotherapy,” she said.

Smyth said going up this year was especially intimidating, when compared to her first time, because of the number of people attending. “It was daunting,” she said. “The crowd was a lot bigger than it was two years ago.”

Smyth added that she would never fully go bald herself, but said that she admired those who did. “I kind of like my hair on my head,” she said. “I think people who do it are very gutsy.”

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Anthony O'Reilly
Anthony O'Reilly, News Editor
Anthony has been one of the most, if not the most, loyal person at this paper. His passion and his dedication to reporting and production is unparalleled. In the last few weeks, he has demonstrated the qualities of a leader and a coach that are required for this position. I have nothing but confidence that Anthony will do a great job. He will serve you, the reader, by providing the most honest, objective news possible. —Terence Cullen News Editor, Emeritus
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