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May 7, 2013 > Irvington High School hosts children's cancer fundraiser

Irvington High School hosts children's cancer fundraiser

By Nisha Patel

Bald is beautiful! Irvington High School is no longer limiting efforts of cancer awareness to walkathons. The first-ever "St. Baldrick's Shave-a-thon" is being held on campus to solicit donations and raise awareness of students, teachers, and other community members of childhood cancer. In honor of this fundraising event, a shave-a-thon will take place on Thursday, May 16 in the Irvington High School gymnasium to honor Sharon Flores, Karen Arno, and Gary Leinweber, all Irvington staff members who have battled cancer.

After attending the "St. Baldrick's Shave-a-thon" at her husband's company, health teacher Rebecca Devakumar wanted to extend the idea to the high school level event. At the lunchtime event, six chairs will be set up in the gymnasium for registered shaves, allowing for a mohawk or some silly styles before the final locks fall. In addition, each teacher who has hair longer than ten inches will be able to donate it to Locks of Love, providing wigs for children who lose their hair to cancer.

Junior Julia Meller who works at a hair salon recruited four hairstylists to volunteer as the shavers. Rebecca Devakumar, Christina Faitel, Steve Strout, Dan Pearce, Mr. Marotta, Scott DiLorenzo, Hector Albizo, Ryan Willer, Mr. Burnute, James Green, Shiloh Burton, Charlie Rodda, and Huy Pham are the thirteen registered teacher and staff member "shavees." Students Leonard Johns, Kenny Wood, and Tristan Perona will also be shaved at the event.

The donation goal is $5,000 and as of May 1, Irvington has raised $3,059. In memory of Mr. Thomas Woodraw, Unigen Corporation has been the biggest donor for the event, while staff member James Green has raised $735 and now stands as the top participant. All donations have been collected online. Student volunteers have also collected donations from fellow students.

"Our goal is to show solidarity to those with cancer and that it is okay to lose your hair. You can be a woman and be bald and still be beautiful," says event coordinator Devakumar. "You are no different with or without hair. Most people are so attached to their hair and how it completes their overall look, but cancer doesn't define who anyone is."

Less than four percent of the National Cancer Institute's budget is directed to childhood cancer research; the St. Baldrick's Foundation wants to change this by creating funding priorities for promising cancer research through high-impact clinical trials at hospitals, training the next generation of researchers, and funding supportive care research to help patients and survivors cope with the disease. St. Baldrick's deals with issues many children face during and after their cancer treatment. Many of St. Baldrick's research recipients are in the Bay Area, including Stanford, Children's Hospital of Oakland, UCSF, and UC Davis. As a volunteer-driven organization, St. Baldrick's hopes that local communities like ours will become involved.

To donate, go to http://www.stbaldricks.org/events/irvington.

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