Hundreds of supporters turned out Friday to rally around young Hannah Meeson and her battle against brain cancer.
During the Heroes for Hannah campaign, 35 people shaved their heads in a show of solidarity and to raise funds and awareness of childhood cancers.
Parents Gaylene and Nigel Meeson led the charge, shedding their locks together with friends at The Wicket at Cricket Square.
“It was fantastic,” said Mr. Meeson. “The community support we had was just amazing – a lot of people are still talking about it.”
The event raised more than US$50,000 for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private childhood cancer research charity in the United States. Mr. Meeson expects that number to triple as they tally online donations made directly to the charity, along with money raised from various events such as dress down days.
“We’re expecting well over $150,000 in total.”
A dozen people registered to shave their heads on Friday – but many more decided to opt for baldness that evening on the spur of the moment. Among them was MLA Roy McTaggart – who wound up shaving more than his head.
“Someone said they’d donate $500 if I shaved my mustache. My wife said she’d donate $1,000 if I didn’t. Then someone else said, if that’s the case, I’ll donate $2,000 – so that won out,” said Mr. McTaggart.
He parted ways with his mustache – which he’s had for some 40 years – because he was moved by Hannah’s story and touched by a personal one as well. He has a 13-year-old niece in Canada who is also battling brain cancer.
“It was a personal reaction to a very worthwhile cause,” he said.
Woody and Sabrina Foster also shed their locks. Their 6-year-old daughter Charli is a cancer survivor, diagnosed with leukemia in 2008 at the age of 13 months.
Mr. and Mrs. Meeson were touched by the show of support.
“There were all sorts of sweet little moments. One little girl gave a penny because she wanted to help Hannah.”
Besides raising funds, a goal behind the event was to raise awareness of childhood cancer and the need for more funding and research. Many aren’t aware that pediatric cancer claims the lives of more children worldwide each year than any other disease.
“We had no idea until we came in contact with it, which is why we need to raise awareness,” said Mr. Meeson.
Another fundraiser is planned for Saturday, Sept. 28 at Universal Fitness Club at Countryside Shopping Village in Savannah. The two-hour aerobic event will see six instructors teaching five different fitness classes to raise funds for St. Baldrick’s Foundation and to increase awareness of the gold ribbon, the official symbol for childhood cancers. Sign up starts at 6 a.m.; classes begin at 6:30 a.m.
Hurley’s has also joined in the fight against childhood cancer by designating a sushi roll of the day as “Hannah’s Roll” and donating $1 from each sold to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Cayman Islands Cancer Society.
“It’s just an amazing show of generosity,” said Mr. Meeson.
As for his new close-shave look? “It’s nice and cool in this weather.”