St. Baldrick’s Foundation

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio

If someone was willing to pay you money, would you shave your head? What if shaving your head could help raise money to fund research for childhood cancer, the number one disease killer of children in the United States? It may sound a bit crazy, but people are doing it and raising hundreds of thousands, make that millions of dollars for childhood cancer in the process.

St. Baldrick’s Foundation is an organization dedicated to raising money to cure childhood cancer and it is known for its head-shaving events. Volunteers at St. Baldrick’s have raised an astounding $33,519,709 in 2012, with 2013’s fundraising already surpassing $4.2 million. A big driving force behind all the fundraising and head shaving comes from some pretty serious (and heartbreaking) statistics – every three minutes worldwide, a child receives a cancer diagnosis. In the United States alone, 1 in 300 boys and 1 in 333 girls will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday. And despite these startling figures, only 3.7% of The National Cancer Institute’s budget goes to fight childhood cancers. St. Baldrick’s works hard to make up the difference.

“I am so grateful that organizations like St. Baldrick’s exist,” says Susan Heard, who lost her son David to Neuroblastoma (a childhood cancer) two years ago. David was only ten years old. “When your world is shaken to the core, it is good to know there have been people working for years to get money to researchers; and that the outcome of a diagnosis like cancer in your child is not always a death sentence. For us, the outcome was the worst one, but our son David had an opportunity to live well during his illness and an opportunity to be part of clinical trials that are making a difference. Until there are cures for all childhood cancers that are less toxic, my family will support the St. Baldrick’s Foundation,” says Heard, a volunteer as well as the full-time director of partnerships at St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

People in the Lehigh Valley are certainly not shy about shaving their heads for a cure to cancer. On January 30, St. Baldrick’s Foundation hosted a head-shaving event at Lafayette College, where members of the football team shaved their heads prior to a collegiate basketball game. Students, children, and adults alike also got in on the action, with a total of 23 shaved heads. This first-time event raised just over $10,000 for St. Baldrick’s pediatric cancer research, and it’s likely that a second Lafayette event will follow.

“Watching one of our neighbors, who moved in after David died, shave her head was very touching to me,” said Susan Heard. “As soon as I posted about the event, she signed on, raised funds, and just did it! That takes guts, as a woman to shave your head, for a little boy she never knew. It speaks volumes to the community of College Hill and the Lehigh Valley as a whole.”

Not to worry if you missed the big shave. May 5, 2013 marks the next head-shaving event – a Birthday Bash shave for what would have been David Heard’s 13th birthday. The event kicks off at 1 p.m. at Michael Perry Hair Studio, the salon that styled Susan Heard’s hair since 1997 and was there for David during his illness. Michael shaved David’s head before the chemo could rob his locks, and when it grew back, David wanted to try different colors and went to see Michael to have his hair dyed. The Heard family has grown close to Michael and the salon over the years. The very first shaving event in David’s honor in 2010 also took place there, making it the perfect place to celebrate the next chapter in fundraising for childhood cancer.

“Our goal is to have 100 people shave their heads, and more importantly, to raise money to fund childhood cancer research in David’s honor,” Susan Heard says. “The theme really will be a party because David loved dancing and disco balls. We hope to have some local bands and DJs, face-painting, crane folding, and family fun activities. There will be plenty of food available from Dave’s Deli along with a bake sale.

“Adults and kids can shave together – the most heartwarming is to watch a father and son shave. Our hope is to raise $20,000. That seems like a lot but there is so much research that doesn’t get funded – this is how we hope to make a difference for kids who are currently battling cancer. David knew we needed to fund research so that kids like him would have a chance at a long and healthy life. So in his honor we are having the event and invite anyone in the community to join us from 1-5 p.m. May 5!”

Susan and her husband Tom Heard are hoping local sports teams will take the plunge and participate in the bald challenge. The Heards are planning an exciting surprise for the team that raises the most money.

All this head shaving started for their family in 2010 when they were invited to the Emmaus High School shave. When he agreed to go, David made his mom promise not to shave her head. David shared his story and showed his scars. Later that evening, he changed his mind about letting his mom shave her head. Susan continues to shave her head to share the message and further funding efforts for childhood cancer – a great way to honor David and other kids going through similar battles. To date she has shaved in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Syracuse, and the Lehigh Valley. This June, she will shave her head in Austin, TX.

“Many people ask me why I keep shaving, and more importantly, raising money for the cause,” she says. “The answer is simple – David asked me to. As he was dying, there were a number of things he wanted from Tom and me. The one I knew I could see through was his request that I use my mouth and my head to find cures for kids who would come after him. To date, David’s Warriors has raised over $150,000. The generosity and interest from our Lehigh Valley community and beyond is overwhelming. We are so grateful and humbled by the amazing contributions of hair and money!”

Be sure to visit to learn more about shaving your head or donating toward this great cause.

For more information on David’s Warriors, to donate, or to join the team, please check out

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