December 5, 2011
College students, staff shave heads for cancer research
Minutes after the SUNY Cortland women’s basketball game began Saturday afternoon at Park Center, a buzz filled the lobby outside the gymnasium.
Instead of fans anxious to get into the stands, it was the sound of two hair clippers buzzing away in an effort to raise money for cancer research.
A dozen members of the Cortland College Student Athletic Trainers’ Association and six members of the athletic training staff had their heads shaved to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Pat Donnelly, a faculty member and member of the athletic training staff for six years, brought the idea to the club as another community service project.
“We’re pretty involved at the local level,” he said. “We’re always looking for new ways to get involved.”
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a nonprofit organization that raises money to fund research on childhood cancers.
The group’s name is a play on words concerning its beginnings. Three insurance executives from New York City turned their annual St. Patrick’s Day party into a fundraiser, asking people to shave their heads bald to raise money.
Over the past 11 years, the charity has raised over $117 million for cancer research.
The SUNY Cortland club decided to raise money for St. Baldrick’s because it is a fun activity for a good organization, Donnelly said.
“It’s all the components we look for,” he said. “It was a no-brainer for us, they’re completely transparent and it’s something fun, frankly.”
The crowd around the chairs grew as the clumps of hair fell away on the plastic beneath the chair. Each volunteer received a round of applause as he got up from the chair, nearly all of them smiling and rubbing newly shaved scalps.
By the end of they day, the group raised $4,136.26, well over its goal of a $1,000.
Two of the people raising money, Steven Myer, an athletic trainer for the past 15 years, and Lee Stambouli, a senior, had their heads shaved during halftime of the SUNY Cortland men’s basketball game after the women’s game.
For Myer, the fundraiser meant a lot personally, because he lost his sister to childhood leukemia.
“I loved the idea, it’s a fabulous concept,” he said.
“I was a bit nervous about it at first, but after seeing so many of the kids jumping on board I had to do it.”
Myer raised over $500, the most of any staff member, before the event but he expected that amount to grow before the end of the day.
“My family is in town for this and I expect a few more good-sized checks to come through,” he said.
Stambouli was not one of the top fundraisers, but he did have longer hair than any of the other volunteers.
“It’s cool to get people together for something like this,” he said.
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