When Melissa Rhoads, a student at Aveda Institute Des Moines, learned about an opportunity to join hair stylists of Salon Adeva in West Des Moines at a fundraising event at DMU, she went beyond packing up her scissors. She agreed to shave off her hair and persuaded her six children and her sister, Amy Short, to join her.
The Feb. 25 event was the University’s second annual St. Baldrick’s Day celebration, where 34 students, employees and local residents signed up to shave their heads or cut their long locks to help conquer childhood cancer. The $13,376 they raised this year will benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity committed to finding cures for childhood cancers.
“When I heard about the event, I thought our family should get a team together,” Rhoads says. “We don’t have anyone in our family who’s sick. We’re very blessed.”
The event was organized by Jake Murray, D.O.’16, one of three community service chairs for the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA), and managed by more than 60 volunteers.
“Childhood cancer research is extremely underfunded, which is why events like this are so important,” says Murray, who concluded the day with a bare cranium. “It’s an opportunity for the whole DMU community to come together to make a strong impact on the devastating effects of childhood cancer.”
The Rhoads team started with a goal of raising $200 for the cause. That jumped when Short posted her willingness on Facebook to shave her head if the team raised $500. They blew past that when Caleb, Kelsey, Caden, Carson, Cameron and Cane Rhoads agreed to go bald after first dying their hair in neon hues.
“We raised over $1,000,” their dad and Melissa’s husband, Cory – who’s already bald – said at the event.
Houston Lui, D.O.’16, president of the College of Osteopathic Medicine Student Government Association, also left the event bald but hopeful it would raise awareness of the need for more research on childhood cancer.
“Children are a special group of patients. They have not had the opportunity to make poor choices that could negatively affect their health,” he says. “Shaving my head is just a small way that I can show support for such a wonderful cause.”