Students and Oncologist Go Bald to Raise Money and Awareness for Pediatric Cancer Research

’Canes and Coral Gables campus visitors lined the steps of the University of Miami’s Rock Plaza on April 10 to see volunteers getting their heads shaved as part of the ’Canes Go Bald 4 Kids event.

Organized by UM juniors and Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority sisters Muniphe Green and Maite Torres, the event raised more than $3,100 in donations to support the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. St Baldrick’s provides funding and support for pediatric cancer research.

The head-shaving — to show solidarity with children who lose their hair during cancer treatments — is a fundamental part of St. Baldrick’s fundraising efforts.

The first to brave the shave was the event’s guest speaker and three-time St. Baldrick’s grant recipient John M. Goldberg, M.D., assistant professor of clinical pediatrics and Director of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Pediatric Oncology Early Phase Clinical Trials Program.

“St. Baldrick’s Foundation has generously supported pediatric cancer research at Sylvester for several years,” said Goldberg. “This year, they are making it possible for our team to provide immune treatments to children with the worst cancers. In return, ’Canes Go Bald 4 Kids is helping to make a difference here in Miami through its support for St. Baldrick’s.”

During his speech, Goldberg mentioned that Garrett Lamp, seven-year St. Baldrick’s representative and “knight of the bald table,” was in attendance. Lamp lives in Melbourne, Florida, but made a day trip to support the event.

“There’s a huge disparity in research dollars for childhood cancer versus adult cancer,” said Lamp. “That makes our volunteer event organizers, or VEOs, the backbone of what we do.”
For VEO Torres, pediatric cancer holds a special connection.

“Three years ago my youngest cousin at the time, Xavier, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer,” said Torres. “With them living in upstate New York and having to be so far away I wanted to do something that would impact my immediate community. Since then I made the decision to personally go bald this year, as a way to support those children losing their hair due to radiation and chemotherapy.”

Torres thought of Xavier as her last lock of hair succumbed to the clippers.

Others who had their heads shaved, including juniors Jonathan Schening and Garrett Etten, said the experience was “liberating.”

’Canes Go Bald 4 Kids will be accepting donations for the next two weeks. Click here to make a donation.

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