The annual event is designed to raise awareness and money for children’s cancer research. Volunteers shave their heads in solidarity with the cancer patients while requesting donations for the cause from friends and family.
“The real goal is to help our own,” Woodring said.
The event began in 2000 and since then has shorn more than 46,000 heads in 46 states and 18 countries, raising more than $34 million. More than 200 Reno/Sparks locals left the event at Wild Island Monday without any hair, including 12 women and a handful of children.
“Our goal here is to have a pediatric oncology center here so people don’t have to go to California (for their children’s treatment),” Woodring said. “It tears families apart. People lose their jobs.”
Monday’s event was the third time that Woodring has shaved his head. He represented a team from the Keaton Raphael Memorial group, which was one of more than a dozen other teams that filled the Coconut Bowl at Wild Island, ready to be shaved, including a team of 44 people from IGT.
The Bailey Johnson Team has been participating in the event for the past three years. The team was named after a smiling 8-year-old cancer survivor with long wispy blonde hair.
Bailey was diagnosed with neuroplastoma at 9 months old and has lived through three lapses, one bone marrow transplant, numerous surgeries and three St. Baldrick’s Day shavings.
“The doctors told us not to plan for his first birthday,” Bailey’s mother, Kelly, said. Eight years later, Bailey was munching on his dinner and getting ready to shave his head at the fun-filled event.
“This is the only time of year we cut his hair,” Kelly said as she looked at the boy’s long blonde locks. “Usually we don’t cut his brother (Cameron’s) hair either, but this year we gave in and gave him a trim.”
Bailey’s photo sat tacked to a poster board display near the entrance to the event. The board told the stories of children who had survived cancer. None of the chubby-cheeked smiles on the display were framed by hair.
Teresa Burke of Sparks took a moment to look at a photo of her bald daughter Monday amid the St. Baldrick’s Day ruckus.
“She shouldn’t be surviving,” Burke said of her daughter Trinity’s battle with a brain tumor. “The thing that amazes me the most is the fact that she has lost so much of her brain mass (because of the tumor) and yet she is still able to talk.”
The little girl turns 4 years old in September and has lived through three surgeries.
“My biggest problem is that I don’t want to be away from her,” Burke said, explaining that treatment is only available in Calfiornia. “It would be great if the technology were available here. I don’t work and I rely on organizations like this for expenses.”
Woodring echoed Burke’s longing for an oncology center in the area.
“People are having to go to Sacramento or Palo Alto, Calif., for treatments,” Woodring said.