Today I want to introduce to you someone pretty special, my daughter Sophia.
When Sophia was ten years old, I took her along with me to a local college to hear Rip Esselstyn speak. It was shortly after his book The Engine 2 Diet was published and he was on a book tour getting the word out about a plant based diet. From that moment on, Sophia became a whole food, plant based eater. She has never wavered or faltered. She just got it. And when we started to learn about plant based nutrition on deeper and deeper levels, like taking the salt and flour our of our diets, she was right there along for that ride with me too. She’s my best “partner in crime.”
“Hey Sophia, have you heard of St. Baldrick’s?”
Emma was president of student council, and I was treasurer. We ate lunch together every day last year, and we frequently talked about our ambitions for council. Emma mentioned the St. Baldrick’s Foundation as a possible charity fundraising event for our class to host, and as soon as she described the event I was hooked.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation donates money to childhood cancer research, giving grants to hospitals and doctors with the goals of improving the lives of children with cancer in every way. They have raised over $178 million (!!!) since 2005 and over $28.5 million this year alone. St. Baldrick’s makes possible clinical trials for rare disease types, supportive care research, pediatric oncology training for doctors, and much more.
St. Baldrick’s raises money through local events where volunteers shave their heads completely bald in an act of solidarity with children who lose their hair to cancer treatments. The people who shave their heads, nicknamed “shavees,” inspire the community to get involved and donate. Over 41,000 shavees have taken the call to “brave the shave” in 2016. Vibrant community events and shavees have led to the immense success of St. Baldrick’s.
I knew immediately that our council had to put on a St. Baldrick’s event and that I would be one of the shavees. I had never really thought about childhood cancer before Emma suggested that we make the event, but I was hit really hard by imagining my friends, siblings, or even myself affected by cancer. It was especially painful to learn that about 1 in 285 children in the United States have cancer before they are twenty years old. 1 in 5 of these children are never cured.
Childhood cancer requires different forms of treatments than adult cancer. The cancer has already spread to other areas of the body by the time 80% of children with cancer are diagnosed. Childhood cancer also is not caused by diet or other factors associated with adult cancer. Survivors of childhood cancer also have lifelong battles in the form of chronic or life threatening conditions by the time they are 45. For these reasons and more, St. Baldrick’s is committed to research in the area of childhood cancer.
Emma, our wonderful council, and I planned a lively event for May 29, 2015. I was amazed and heart-warmed to see how generous my community is when I began fundraising anticipating the event. My initial goal was to fundraise $250. Before I knew it, I hit 250. Then I hit 1000. Then I hit 2000. Then I hit 3000. By the time May 29, 2015 came about, I had raised $3,939 for St. Baldrick’s. I was very excited to say goodbye to my hair after seeing how my family and friends responded to my decision to brave the shave.
Our Shaker Heights High School event brought together the community with 17 shavees, pizza, baked goods, pickles, henna art, and face paint. We raised over $8,000 for childhood cancer research. Our event was a success, and I am so proud to have helped put it together and raise money to go to grants to help kids all over the world. Here are some highlight photos of my experience during our event:
Check out our school newspaper article about our event here: http://shakerite.com/top-stories/2015/05/30/shave-a-life-event-breaks-boundaries-and-raises-awareness/
To carry on the legacy that Emma started, student council is hosting the second annual Shaker Heights High School St. Baldrick’s event on May 13, 2016. I have decided to be a shavee again this year, alongside Emma, other students, and community members. St. Baldrick’s has been such a positive experience for me and everyone in Shaker.
My fundraising goal for this year is $5,000. St. Baldrick’s makes a difference for kids with cancer all over the world. There is a bright future in view for kids with cancers that may have had no hope just a few years ago. St. Baldrick’s-funded research has a massive effect, and I want to help make it possible.
You can help me reach my fundraising goal and save lives of children all over the world by donating here: https://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/sophiasolganik
Maybe you got inspired to learn more about childhood cancer, or you would like to be a shavee yourself- Find out more at http://www.stbaldricks.org/
St. Baldrick’s provides a way for anyone to change the world though improving the lives of children. Together, we can keep St. Baldrick’s amazing and bring joy to people in all communities.
- The name “St. Baldrick’s” comes from the word “bald” and St. Patrick’s Day, the day that the first head shaving event took place.
- Shavees can donate their hair to a wig-making charity if their heart desires, but St. Baldrick’s does not make wigs
- Most of the photos were candid. Don’t mind my silly faces.