Heroes for Hannah: Cayman is full of them

Three cheers for everyone who pitched in to support childhood cancer research at the Heroes for Hannah event last Friday. Heck, make that 320,000 cheers.

As we reported in Monday’s edition of the Compass, hundreds of people showed up to cheer on nearly 100 brave volunteers who lined up to have their heads shaved at the Wicket at Cricket Square in George Town as part of a fundraising effort for the Heroes for Hannah “Hero Fund.” All told, the event raised well over $320,000, which will go to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity that gives grants for childhood cancer research.

The top fundraising teams, whose totals were still being updated as we penned this editorial Monday, included Dart Cayman Islands ($50,000), “Maples and Balder” ($50,000), “Gonyers” ($36,000), “Least We Can Do” ($35,000), “Harney, Westwood & Razors” ($11,000), KPMG ($11,000) and “Elian – We’re Raising the Bar” ($10,000).

Now in its third year, Heroes for Hannah is one of the most successful shave events in the world for St. Baldrick’s, said the charity’s Hero Fund Manager Kelly Forebaugh. Since 2004, St. Baldrick’s has donated more than $176 million in the form of some 890 grants to more than 358 institutions in 26 countries.

As most of our readers are aware, the Heroes for Hannah organization was established in honor of courageous young Cayman Islands resident Hannah Meeson, age 7, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2012 and has since become the face of childhood cancer research in this country.

Through perseverance, selflessness and determination — and always with grace — Hannah and her parents Nigel and Gaylene have transformed their own personal trial into a string of inspirational victories of the human spirit.

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On Friday night, Mrs. Meeson, characteristically, shifted the spotlight away from her family: “Tonight, it’s not about Hannah; it’s about all kids fighting cancer,” she said.

Her words are no mere platitudes. Tears mingled with hair clippings at the packed, emotional event, where parents, family members and friends of childhood cancer survivors demonstrated their solidarity by going bald themselves (mimicking the signature side effect of chemotherapy). The freshly shorn included Woody Foster, whose daughter Charli has been diagnosed with leukemia; Mechon Evangelista-Ebanks, whose daughter Mimi has been diagnosed with brain cancer; and the Grant family, consisting of dad Trent, mom Belinda, son Tayden, who has been diagnosed with leukemia, and his brothers Trey and Tajai.

Also volunteering were MLAs Winston Connolly and Roy McTaggart, 6-year-old Olly Thorpe, 9-year-old Matteo Carbini and many others.

News reports are often dominated by natural disasters, man-made calamities and senseless acts of violence and destruction. When a serious illness, such as cancer, strikes an innocent child, it is difficult to perceive this world as anything but a stage for grand tragedy.

Fred Rogers, the eponymous host of children’s television show “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” — in order to assuage the fears of children (and grown-ups) — used to recall something his mother had told him in such dark times:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

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  1. What puzzles me is that we are very active to raise funds to fight cancer and yet do nothing to prevent it.

    Mass poisoning of children got zero attention from the same community. Cancers don’t start next day after exposure to cancerogens.

    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.

    Why parents of the children that got poisoned do nothing? Where is the community outrage?