More than 1,000 people are expected to gather at the Wicket in Cricket Square on Friday evening to witness the annual Hannah’s Heroes Big Shave for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to raise money for childhood cancer research.

Now in its fourth year, the event was conceived by Cayman residents Gaylene and Nigel Meeson. In 2012 their daughter Hannah was diagnosed with anaplastic medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer.

“Hannah has a 95 percent chance of relapse, and in the probable event of that relapse there are no known successful medical trials for us to follow,“ said Mrs. Meeson. “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.”

The packed crowd of supporters cheer those taking a seat in the barber's chair.
The packed crowd of supporters cheer those taking a seat in the barber’s chair.

Children battling cancer

Other childhood cancer survivors in Cayman are involved in helping raise money and awareness, including Skylar “Mimi” Ebanks, Annabelle Reading, Beau Shields, Tayden Grant and Charli Foster. As there is no treatment available for childhood cancer in the Cayman Islands, the children must travel frequently to the U.S. for treatments and check-ups.

Hannah’s Heroes is a Hero Fund of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research in the U.S. Since its inception, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation has awarded US$200 million in childhood cancer research grants, and three research grants have been named in Hannah’s honor – testament to the money raised during head-shaving events held in Cayman since 2013.

Charlene Barnes, left, and Paige Gallagher, right, begin to shave a volunteer’s head. - Photos: Taneos Ramsay
Charlene Barnes, left, and Paige Gallagher, right, begin to shave a volunteer’s head. – Photos: Taneos Ramsay

Local volunteers

“Local support has been overwhelming again this year,” said Mrs. Meeson. “Over 100 supporters will shave on Friday, including The Firebalds – a Fire Service team, MLA Winston Connolly, 7-year-old Olly Thorpe, the Bald Angels, our first all-female shave team, a host of big-hearted individuals and corporate teams, and the parents of local cancer survivors. We are humbled to see the Cayman community united again in the fight against childhood cancer.”

As of press time, more than $75,000 has been raised by shavees ahead of this year’s event. A. L. Thompson’s Human Resources manager Caron Murphy, who is pregnant, leads the fundraising efforts with more than $12,000 donated by friends and family.

The Hannah’s Heroes Big Shave for St. Baldrick’s will take place at The Wicket in Cricket Square from 5-9 p.m. It features a silent auction, balloon prize raffle and food and drink specials from the Brasserie.

Go to this website or email team@hannahsheroes.ky for more information.

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