GAINESVILLE, Fla. — UF/IFAS plant science professors and University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) students will shave their heads and raise money to increase awareness of childhood cancer. The plant science team will participate in the UF Freshmen Leadership Council’s St. Baldrick’s service project on March 16 from 4 to 9 p.m. on Norman Field.
The effort is one of many events around the country that benefit St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The nonprofit organization works closely with leading pediatric oncologists to find childhood cancer cures, as well as ways to prevent lifelong damage resulting from surgeries, radiation and chemotherapies. UF Health is a recipient of grants from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
“This is something for students to diversify the service projects they can participate in on campus,” said plant science student Jimmy Herd-Bond, a participant in the plant science St. Baldrick’s team. “This is a way to show we care by not only giving money, but by taking action.”
This will be the second “shearing” plant pathology lecturer Brantlee Spakes Richter has gone through for a St. Baldrick’s event. She last participated eight years ago in Raleigh, North Carolina in honor of a sister-in-law she never met. Richter’s sister-in-law died from a misdiagnosed cancerous tumor she had as a teenager that spread throughout her body. Richter says her sister-in-law’s presence is still felt every day in their family.
“I’m hopeful that through improved research, someone else will get to meet her sister-in-law, brother-in-law, best friend or soul mate,” Richter said. “Since the 1970s, the 5-year survival rate for childhood cancers has increased from less than 50 percent to more than 80 percent thanks to improved treatments made possible by cancer research. But the very fact that we still measure success as 5-year survival speaks volumes. We have a long way to go.”
According to agronomy lecturer Erin Alvarez, “Rocking the bald is an easy thing for me do to support cancer patients and destigmatize baldness. We teach our students about doing what they can to help others by walking around in someone else’s shoes. For me, that’s participating in the St. Baldrick’s event.”
The team hopes to make this a signature volunteer event for plant science faculty and student majors. The team is currently accepting donations as well as team members willing to shave their heads for the cause.
The team aims to raise $3,500 by March 16. So far, members have reached 45 percent of their goal. Click here to donate or join the plant science St. Baldrick’s team.
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