'Heroes' raise nearly $300K for child cancer research

Almost 100 people made the bold choice to go bald on Friday night at the third annual Heroes for Hannah shave event in support of childhood cancer research. 

The hundreds who attended, many as spectators, raised more than $280,000 for the Heroes for Hannah “Hero Fund,” organizers said. 

“The community has been amazing,” said Gaylene Meeson, organizer and mother of Hannah, who was diagnosed with a type of brain cancer in 2012. “They’ve filled us with hope that we can make the world a better place. If we fund research, it will make a difference.” 

The event, inspired by Hannah, also shines a spotlight on other local kids who have battled or are still battling cancer. 

“Tonight, it’s not about Hannah; it’s about all kids fighting cancer,” Ms. Meeson said. 

As “Eye of the Tiger” blasted from the speakers, the parents of some of those childhood cancer survivors were the first to have their heads shaved on stage at the Wicket at Cricket Square in George Town. 

Woody Foster said goodbye to a wild mohawk he had grown especially for the event, while his daughter Charli danced around him, tossing handfuls of his shorn hair up in the air. Charli, who is 8, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008. 

“I love this event,” Mr. Foster said. “The emotion is unbelievable, it’s indescribable really. It’s a truly powerful event.” 

That emotion was palpable as Mechon Evangelista-Ebanks took to the stage to say a prayer for Mimi, her 2-year-old daughter who has been battling brain cancer since she was 5 weeks old. 

Ms. Evangelista-Ebanks had her head shaved, along with a number of her Caribbean Utilities Company colleagues, at work Friday morning. 

“It doesn’t get easier, Ms. Evangelista-Ebanks said. “Every time you shave your head, all of those emotions come in and it just flash-floods you. The bottom line is we’re doing it because our children don’t have a cure, and that’s the passion we’re relying on, because we want to find a cure.” 

This year’s head-shaving participants were a diverse group, including two MLAs (Winston Connolly and Roy McTaggart), corporate teams, 18 women, and even a number of young children. 

Hannah’s 6-year-old best friend, Olly Thorpe, shed her 9-inch blonde ponytail, and 9-year-old Matteo Carbini shaved his long, dark locks. 

Shaving was a family affair for the Grants, who have been personally touched by childhood cancer. Their 8-year-old son, Tayden, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia five years ago. Tayden and his dad Trent, mom Belinda, and brothers Tajai, 7, and Trey, 6, all had their heads shaved at the event. 

“Do it for the kids,” said Belinda Grant. “It’s so worth it.” 

The shaving is more than just a symbolic gesture – shavees also raise money to support the fund. 

Cayman-based corporations went all-out this year, raising thousands of dollars. The highest fundraising team was Dart Cayman Islands, which raised more than $50,000. Maples and Calder, whose team name was “Maples and Balder,” raised more than $46,000. Team “Gonyers” and Team “Least We Can Do” each raised about $35,000, and several other corporate teams also contributed significant amounts. 

All of the money raised by Heroes for Hannah is donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a childhood cancer research charity that has funded more than $176 million in childhood cancer research grants since 2004. 

Of the hundreds of St. Baldrick’s shave events worldwide every year, Heroes for Hannah is one of the most successful, according to St. Baldrick’s Hero Fund Manager Kelly Forebaugh. She said Heroes for Hannah is one of the top 10 fundraising events worldwide. 

Ms. Meeson said she is “thrilled” that the event has drawn so much support from the community, including the participants, volunteers and businesses that have donated services and prizes. 

“Everybody has been touched by cancer or knows someone who’s been touched by cancer,” Ms. Meeson said, but with research, she said, there is hope for those fighting childhood cancer. 

“The survival rate for leukemia has gone from 10 percent to 90 percent in the last 50 years and that’s from research,” Ms. Meeson said. 

Donations to the Heroes for Hannah fund can be made until the end of the year online at www.stbaldricks.org/events/heroesforhannah/. 

Shaving was a family affair for the Grants.

Shaving was a family affair for the Grants. Tayden, 8, pictured, and his dad Trent, mom Belinda, and brothers Tajai, 7, and Trey, 6, all had their heads shaved at the Heroes for Hannah fundraiser for childhood cancer research. – PHOTOS: TANEOS RAMSAY

Hannah Meeson, with parents Nigel and Gaylene

Hannah Meeson, with parents Nigel and Gaylene, inspired the event, which was an emotional evening for participants.

Woody Foster, before …

Woody Foster, before …

… and after

… and after

Iris Stoner, whose son Adam had his head shaved, makes a contribution.

Iris Stoner, whose son Adam had his head shaved, makes a contribution.

The Meeson family, center, has plenty of support at the head-shaving event, now in its third year. – PHOTOS: TANEOS RAMSAY

The Meeson family, center, has plenty of support at the head-shaving event, now in its third year. – PHOTOS: TANEOS RAMSAY

Kids line up to make donations.

Kids line up to make donations.

Community turnout shows how the Cayman Islands has come together for this cause. ‘They’ve filled us with hope that we can make the world a better place,’ said Gaylene Meeson, Hannah’s mother.

Community turnout shows how the Cayman Islands has come together for this cause. ‘They’ve filled us with hope that we can make the world a better place,’ said Gaylene Meeson, Hannah’s mother.
0
0

NO COMMENTS

  1. Children are being born with brain cancers? How devastating is that! Why children on this island have cancers and other physical and mental impairments? How many are there? The toxic landfill connection? Is someone going to get to the cause of mass poisoning of children at school? Or it will remain under investigation for months?
    This country needs its own Erin Brokovich to build gross negligence case against CIG. West Bay ladies have successfully demonstrated it can be done without a law degree. The community will support it.
    Do it for the kids, It’s so worth it.
    And I want to say that MLA members can do more than just shave their heads.

    0

    0
  2. Children are not little adults. Children do not vote.
    Children are politically powerless; they are defenceless. With no political standing of their own, they must rely on adults to protect them from toxic environmental agents.

    Children, including the embryo, fetus, infant and all life stages until the completion of adolescence, are at a different and increased risk from environmental hazards from that of adults.
    Children are subjected to higher exposures to pollutants found in air, water and food.
    They are closer to the ground. Pollutants such as mercury, solvents, pesticides are concentrated in their breathing zone. Because they are small, they have a high surface area to volume ratio and can have dramatically higher absorption through dermal contact than adults.
    Because children breathe more air, and the air is more heavily contaminated in their living zone they are exposed to more contaminant than are adults.
    A toddler will absorb between 40 and 70% of a given ingested dose of lead, whereas a non-pregnant adult will absorb from 5–20%.
    The blood–brain barrier is not fully developed for the first 36 months of life, so substances such as lead readily cross into the central nervous system.
    Environmental toxicants found in the air, both indoors and outdoors, are delivered to children at higher internal doses than to adults. These toxicants include ozone, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter, lead, mercury.
    Toxicants that are carried in food will be delivered at 2–3 times higher rates in children than in adults and those in water will be delivered at 5–7 times the adult rate.
    Autism rates now 1 in 88 U.S. children.
    1 in 42 boys has autism, 4.5 times as many as girls (1 in 189).

    0

    0