With 12 weeks to go until the fourth annual head-shave event inspired by young cancer survivor Hannah Meeson, organizers are encouraging supporters to forgo their next haircut and opt for a shave in September to help raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
The “Hannah’s Heroes” shave event, formerly known as the “Heroes for Hannah” fundraiser, was conceived by Hannah’s parents Gaylene and Nigel Meeson to raise awareness about childhood cancer and raise money for research.
In 2012, Hannah was diagnosed with anaplastic medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer.
“As a parent of a child with cancer, there are moments that you are overwhelmed by helplessness and despair and the desperate need to do something, anything, to help find a cure,” Ms. Meeson said in a press release. “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 simply will not survive.
“All children deserve to grow up and realize their full potential and it’s something that most families take for granted,” she added.
Since the first shave event in September 2013, Hannah’s Heroes has raised US$1,027,441 for St. Baldrick’s, the largest nongovernment funder of childhood cancer research in the U.S.
Other childhood cancer survivors and their families in Cayman have also become involved in the effort to raise money and awareness, including Skylar “Mimi” Ebanks, age 3, Annabelle Reading, 5, Beau Shields, 4, Tayden Grant, 8, and Charli Foster, 8.
As there is no treatment available in the Cayman Islands for childhood cancer, these children must travel frequently to the U.S. for treatments and check-ups.
Mechon Evangelista-Ebanks, mother to Mimi – who was six weeks old when she was diagnosed with a type of brain cancer called ependymoma – said in the press release that St. Baldrick’s “gives children and families hope and the best chance of survival.”
“St. Baldrick’s mission is to fund research to find cures for childhood cancer, and our family is in desperate need of a cure,” Ms. Evangelista-Ebanks said. “St. Baldrick’s only funds childhood cancer research and they do it really well, and by supporting them, together we can make a real difference to the lives of all kids fighting cancer.”
The Hannah’s Heroes shave event will take place on Sept. 23 at the Wicket in Cricket Square.
Every year, the event attracts hundreds of supporters, and individuals of all ages have stepped up on stage to have their head shaved, including 7-year-old Olly Thorpe, who will shave her head again this year in honor of her friend Hannah’s courage.
“I am shaving again because I need to help other kids, not just Hannah, because they still haven’t cured cancer yet and if everyone just shaves once, the money will run out,” Olly said in the press release.
Ms. Meeson said community support for the cause has been “overwhelming.”
“We are simply blown away by Cayman taking this cause to its heart, from school bake sales and children donating their pocket money through to others endurance running and of course the many supporters who have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars by shaving,” Ms. Meeson said. “It is so inspiring to see such a huge cross section of Cayman united to raise funds for life-saving research. We can’t wait to return to the Wicket this September and stand united with others in the fight against childhood cancer.”
For information about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation or to learn more about September’s event in Cayman, visit stbaldricks.org/events/hannahsheroes, facebook.com/stbaldricks-HannahsHeroes, or email [email protected]