More than 1,000 people attended the fifth annual Hannah’s Heroes Big Shave on Friday night, raising more than $267,000 for children’s cancer research.
The crowd at Cricket Square watched as 107 people – including 27 women and 12 children – had their heads buzzed to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest nongovernment funder of pediatric cancer research in the U.S.
It was Cayman resident Eugene Nolan’s fourth year participating in the event. More than $45,000 has been raised on Mr. Nolan’s behalf since 2013, but he wanted to give something extra this year.
“This year, I instituted some challenges …. The one I wasn’t expecting was taking my eyebrows off,” he said. “Fantastically, we raised another $1,000 when I announced I was shaving my eyebrows.”
The added donations helped Mr. Nolan and his team, Savage Cuts Consulting, raise the second highest amount, with a total of $26,469 by the end of the night. Maples and Balder raised the most with $31,192, and Natasha Casebolt was the top-ranked individual with $10,512.
Donations like those have led to tangible results, according to St. Baldrick’s Foundation CEO Kathleen Ruddy, who traveled from the U.S. to attend. She said that the contributions have helped St. Baldrick’s award more than $230 million in 1,052 grants to more than 358 research institutions.
Recently, St. Baldrick’s-funded research led to the FDA approval of CAR T Cell therapy for children with leukemia – a treatment that targets cancer cells while leaving the healthy ones intact, she said.
Additionally, Ms. Ruddy said, four grants have been named in honor of Hannah’s Heroes to fight anaplastic medulloblastoma, the disease that affected the event’s namesake, Hannah Meeson.
Hannah, now 10-years old, was at the Big Shave on Friday, sporting a big smile as dozens of people had their heads shaved.
Her mother, Gaylene Meeson, said Hannah is “thriving,” going to school in Hong Kong and participating in the Girl Scouts – a remarkable feat for a girl who was given less than a 5 percent chance of surviving when she relapsed in 2013.
Ms. Meeson said she is “overwhelmed” that the Big Shave continues to garner such large support from Cayman five years after its inception, when 35 people shaved their heads.
“Every year I think we must have peaked and people will get board of watching people have their head shaved,” she said. But “the more we raise awareness, the more people get involved. Because children are involved.”