For kids who are diagnosed with cancer at a young age, shaving their head is not their own choice but rather a necessary part of their cancer journey. At events like Thursday’s Shave for the Brave, college students can willingly make the decision to shave their heads in solidarity with the children who did not have the same choice.
For the past five years, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has hosted Shave for the Brave, a fundraising event through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which is a national organization that fundraises for grants for pediatric cancer research.
This year’s event will take place on Thursday from 4-8 p.m. in the Abel-Sandoz Welcome Center. Students are encouraged to sign up to participate in the event in advance so they can set fundraising goals for themselves, which they then publish on social media platforms. The money their followers or friends donate goes directly to St. Baldrick’s. If the fundraisers meet their goal, they will get their head shaved on the day of the event. However, participants can choose to volunteer on the spot as well.
Carrie Fitzwater, an area coordinator for Housing Residence Life, has been helping organize the event this year. She said students have continually come together for this event to support the cause.
“[Shave for the Brave] got started on campus by a group of individuals in Abel Hall that thought it would be a great way to give back to the community and engage students in the residence halls,” Fitzwater said. “After the first year, it really caught fire with the students and the student leaders in University Housing, that it has continued to be a great event on our campus.”
In previous years, UNL’s Shave for the Brave event has raised between $10,000 to $16,000, and the goal this year is to reach $15,000. According to Fitzwater, the statistics of childhood cancer are enough to make anyone want to participate in this event.
“Worldwide, a child is diagnosed every two minutes with cancer. One in five won’t survive and 2/3 of those diagnosed with childhood cancer suffer long-term effects,” she said. “The impact that it can have on a student that walks on our campus, why shouldn’t we do something to help change those numbers?”
Students are encouraged to attend the event even if they don’t plan to shave or cut their hair. Those in attendance will have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for prizes donated by local businesses and hear from students who are survivors of childhood cancer.
“It is an amazing experience to watch students get their head shaved,” Fitzwater said. “You see so many emotions by the individual sitting in the chair and the individuals watching the event, and you also will hear stories about students who, themselves, have been impacted by childhood cancer, the survivors.”
For those who don’t want to shave their heads, the event also pairs up with Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program so students can donate eight inches of undyed hair to be made into wigs.
Evan Hansmeier, a senior agribusiness major, is the president of UNL's Scarlet and Cream Chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary — an organization that helps put on Shave for the Brave as a way to give back to the community.
“We all can do big things, but when we come together as a larger community, we can have an even larger impact,” Hansmeier said. “There is no limit to the impact that we can have on our world. We have numerous students that have gotten involved. Not only have they had an impact on our campus, but they also have had an impact in the race for a cure to pediatric brain cancer.”