YMS St. Baldrick’s event raises $15,000 for cancer research
Piles of hair covered the floor of the Yorkville Middle School gymnasium Saturday as teachers, administrators, parents and students stepped up to have their heads shaved as part of the nationwide annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation events to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, started in 2000, has more than 1,000 shaving events taking place across the country. To participate, “shavees” find a local event, sign up to shave, and collect as much money as possible in donations, before ultimately having their heads shaved. Some participants who have longer hair choose to have their locks donated, so that a child in need can benefit in another way.
Saturday’s event at YMS was the inaugural shave, after eighth-grader Shannon Burke came up with the idea last year. Burke, who lost her friend to cancer at the age of 5, came up with the idea to host a St. Baldrick’s event after hearing about the organization from a friend.
“It feels great to know that people are supporting my dream,” she said. “The slogan at our school is ‘Dream Big, YMS,’ so it’s nice that they’re supporting my dream, they’re having an event, they’re taking the time to get the word out.”
Burke raised a total of $1,514, the most of any student at YMS, and was one of the shavees, having 13 inches of hair cut off before having the rest shaved. “I just wanted to shave my head, because I wanted to show kids with cancer that hair doesn’t define you, and you’re beautiful with or without hair,” Burke said.
YMS Athletic Director Jeff Perzee and Dean of Students Martha Venetucci both praised the level of student involvement. Perzee, who created the Student Athlete Leadership Team (SALT), of which Burke is a member, said that Burke came to the administration last year to propose the idea, which led the district to establish it as an event for the school year. Several SALT students participated in the event by helping to run games, concessions and raffles.
“Not only was it student-driven, and we wanted to support that student initiative, as we see students go through a lot of unfortunate circumstances in our own school district, we wanted to find a way to be able to support them,” Venetucci said.
In total, shavees who participated at YMS on Saturday raised about $15,000 through donations, raffle prizes, concessions and games. The positive turnout from the event encouraged the administration, with Principal Lisa Adler saying that the event may become a biannual event, as students are only at YMS for two years, which would allow everybody to experience it once.
“Lots of families are affected by cancer, and I’m just so excited that we are able to show our support,” Burke said.