by TIM SMITH
Hundreds of shaved heads have added up to more than $7 million in the fight against childhood cancer in Bermuda through the St Baldrick’s Foundation.
And there’s been more than a few laughs along the way, as men, women, girls and boys have swapped their flowing locks for a shiny bald pate over the past 20 years.
St Baldrick’s – an international charity spanning more than 30 countries – actually has roots here in Bermuda.
Back in 1999, island-based business executives Tim Kenny, John Bender and Enda McDonnell decided they wanted to give something back to charity and organised a head-shaving event that raised $104,000 for the Children’s Oncology Group in the United States.
The event quickly become an annual phenomenon named St Baldrick’s Day, and Bermuda was one of 37 places around the world to generate more than $1 million by staging head-shaving events on or around St Patrick’s Day in 2002.
It continued to prove a success, and with the backing of Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre and PALS Cancer Care in Bermuda, annual Brave the Shave events on the island have raised a total of $7.4 million, an average of more than $300,000 per year. Despite a lower participation in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, 18 shaves took place in 2022, generating more than $50,000.
In total, the St Baldrick’s Foundation has raised more than $320 million. Funds go towards lifesaving research on childhood cancer, and 10 per cent of all funds raised each year go to the BCHC’s SunSmart Programme, a skin cancer awareness and prevention programme for children.
Local heroes include:
Docksider Pub and Restaurant, which hosts an annual St Patrick’s Day head-shaving event, attended by hundreds of supporters and spectators
Bermuda schools, which have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars by staging annual St Baldrick’s events
Sean Ramlal, who gets his head shaved every year and raised more than $5,000 in a shave at Salon Visage, Reid Street, last year
Flo Pedro, who raised more than $3,000 last year to honour who mother who did the same thing 20 years previously
Payton, Isabella and Ethan Benevides Mora who honoured their mother Victoria Benevides with a head shave in 2018
Joanne Raposo who, together with her son Mark Raposo, raised more than $3,000 in honour of her mother Jillian Potts in 2015.
Advances in cancer research mean that 90 per cent of children with the most common type of cancer will live, but progress has remained slow in tackling some types of cancer.
More children are lost to cancer in the US than any other disease and a child is diagnosed with cancer somewhere in the world every two minutes.
To take part in St Baldrick’s Day, visit stbaldricks.org/international/bchc ahead of St Patrick’s Day, and click on an event.
Anyone interested in starting a BCHC event should visit the same website or e-mail [email protected] or call 1-888-899-2253.