Students step up to help raise money for Hannah’s Heroes

Students Nadia Simmonds, left, and Ria Plunkett show off bags containing their just-cut hair, which will be donated. - Photo: Jewel Levy

Before it even begins, this year’s Hannah’s Heroes Big Shave has raised more than $202,000 in pledges and donations, according to organizers.

As the island gears up for Friday night’s popular head-shave event, which raises money for child cancer research charity the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, students and teachers in schools throughout Cayman have been getting their hair cut or shaved, all in the name of the charity.

Hannah Meeson, now age 11, was diagnosed in 2012 with anaplastic medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer. Her parents, Gaylene and Nigel Meeson, created the Hannah’s Heroes Big Shave to raise awareness about childhood cancer and raise money for research.

So far, at least US$1.8 million has been raised in Hannah’s name for childhood cancer. This will be the sixth year the event has been held.

On Thursday, students at Cayman Prep and High School clapped, cheered and screamed in support of dozens of students and teachers getting their hair shaved.

“I am so proud of the children who are not just giving of their time and energy, but also of their hair for the worthy cause,” said school principal Karl Murphy.

“A lot of people can think about giving money, but our children have thought about this, are volunteering and understanding with empathy those who have gone through very invasive treatment, and we’re so proud of them,” Mr. Murphy said.

Sociology teacher John Clark said he gets his head shaved for Hannah’s Heroes every year. “It’s for a good cause, and we need to make people more aware of childhood cancer and do what we can,” he said.

Year 12 student Nadia Simmonds was both excited and nervous about getting her hair cut. “I’ve raised a lot of money … over $2,000, so I am really, really excited that my hair will be going to a good cause and help find a cure for cancer.”

To raise the money, Ms. Simmonds posted on the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website, Facebook and called people to donate.

“We’ve got to take care of the next generation of children and we’ve got to make the treatment for childhood cancer better than it is,” said Mrs. Meeson, who flew in with Hannah from Hong Kong, where they now live, for the event.

“This is the third shave that Cayman Prep has hosted, and we are blown away by the fact that the children are helping the children. If we can inspire the next generation to care about childhood cancer, we can raise awareness of this childhood disease,” she said.

Cayman Prep and High students take to the stage to get their heads shaved on Thursday morning to raise funds for Hannah’s Heroes Big Shave. – Photo: Alvaro Serey

Clifton Hunter High School will host a head shave event for teachers and students Friday morning, while Sir John A. Cumber Primary School will have a staff shave in the afternoon.

Hannah’s Heroes Big Shave for St. Baldrick’s will take place on Friday, Sept. 28, at The Wicket in Cricket Square at 5-9 p.m. and features a silent auction, balloon prize raffle and food and drink specials from the Brasserie. Visit www.stbaldricks.org/events/hannahsheroes or email [email protected] for more information.