More than 100 people have signed up to have their heads shaved at the third annual Heroes for Hannah shave event to raise money for childhood cancer research.
The fundraiser, inspired by Hannah Meeson, who was diagnosed with a type of brain cancer in 2012, is scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday at The Wicket in Cricket Square.
Heroes for Hannah is a “Hero Fund” of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, described as the largest private funder of childhood cancer research in the United States.
Among those who have signed up for head shaving are MLAs Winston Connolly and Roy McTaggart, and a team from the Cayman Islands Fire Service who call themselves “The Firebalds” who will shave in uniform in memory of Dimitrie Connor who died of brain cancer in 2013 at age 15.
Kids are also signing to take part in the event, including Matteo Carbini, 9, and Olly Thorpe, 6.
Olly will also donate her 9-inch blonde ponytail to Wigs for Kids, a charity that provides wigs and other support to children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, alopecia and other medical issues.
On her St. Baldrick’s participant Web page, Olly has a message about why she is shaving her head and helping her friend Hannah.
“Hannah is brave and funny and I like to play with her,” the message reads. “If I shave my hair and people give money then the scientists can find a cure or medicine that does not damage the kids so much. And it’s just hair, and mine will grow back.”
Olly has raised almost $3,000 and has a goal to raise $5,000.
Organizers of the event aim to raise $250,000 this year. Last year’s Heroes for Hannah Shave Event raised nearly $300,000.
“We are humbled to see the Cayman community united in the fight against childhood cancer,” Gaylene Meeson, Hannah’s mother, said in a press release.
“Hannah has a 5 percent chance of surviving the next five years and in the highly probable event of relapse, there are no known successful medical trials for us to follow,“ Ms. Meeson said. “All childhood cancers combined receive only 4 percent of U.S. federal funding for cancer research, so without vital research funded by organizations like St. Baldrick’s, Hannah and children like her will not survive.”
Every dollar raised from the event, which is run by volunteers, supports St. Baldrick’s childhood cancer research grants.
Childhood cancer survivors in Cayman including Skylar “Mimi” Ebanks, Annabelle Reading, Beau Shields, Tayden Grant and Charli Foster are also involved in raising funds for research and awareness.
There is no treatment available for childhood cancer in the Cayman Islands, so it is necessary for patients to travel to the U.S. for treatments and checkups.
Organizers expect more than 1,000 people to attend the Heroes for Hannah event this year, which will include a silent auction, balloon prize raffles and food and drink specials from the Brasserie. Attendance is free.
For more information, visit www.stbaldricks.org/events/heroesforhannah.