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Dozens set to go bald to help conquer cancer

March  31, 2014

Augustana students will host the annual St. Baldrick’s event to raise funds for Conquer Childhood Cancers! beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16, in the PepsiCo Recreation Center (3520 7th Ave., Rock Island). Approximately 50 Augustana students have already signed up to shave their heads to show solidarity with kids living with cancer, and to raise money for childhood cancer research.

The idea started with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers. This is the third year Augustana’s Rho Nu Delta fraternity is hosting the event, with each year adding more participants and donations. Last year at Augustana, the participants raised $32,000 for the cause.

"Participating in this event is a great celebration of caring among the student body,” said Austin Zarbuck, an Augustana senior from Urbana, Ill., and a fraternity member. “The act of shaving your head to support complete strangers affected by cancer is a powerful thing.”

Zarbuck recognizes the sense of pride among all those with shaved heads as they walk around campus. “It helps us all realize that there are those less fortunate, and that we can take time to support them symbolically and monetarily.”

“There really isn’t a reason why I first became involved with St. Baldrick’s other than to show support to my younger sister,” said Kristin Schmidt, a participating sophomore from Frankfort, Ill., majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. “She is 16 now and has been free of cancer for over six years.”

The kids at the summer camp where Schmidt works are also great sources of inspiration. “It’s great seeing what these kids do with everything,” she said, “and just shaving my head to support them is something I figured I could do.”

The name “St. Baldrick’s” is a combination of the words “bald” and “St. Patrick’s,” since the first event was held on March 17, 2000, which was St. Patrick’s Day. Since then, the foundation has raised more than $100 million by staging head-shaving events worldwide.