Arrive with full head of hair, leave bald for good cause


Videography by S K Vemmer


St. Baldrick’s Day at Children’s Hospital University of Illinois is an annual ritual that draws participants back year after year. They come with full heads of hair and donations from friends and family to support pediatric cancer research — and leave with shaven heads.

James Kelly, senior project coordinator in the department of civil and materials engineering, will participate in his second St. Baldrick’s event Feb. 19. His daughter, Danielle, was treated for brain cancer at UIC when she was 3 years old. She is now 20 and a sophomore at Illinois State University.

James Kelly gets ready to have his head shaved for St. Baldricks's

James Kelly and his daughter Danielle, 20. As a toddler, she was treated for cancer at UIC.

Kelly is among 30 participants signed up so far. He has more than $1,300 in pledges from friends and family towards his goal of $3,000.

“If I can do it once, I can do it again,” Kelly said.

St. Baldrick’s Foundation funds the Children’s Oncology Group, more than 200 leading children’s hospitals, universities and cancer centers — including the UIC/Rush/Stroger Children’s Oncology Group — seeking cures and better treatments for childhood cancers.

“St. Baldrick’s really does a great job with fundraising for pediatric cancer research and I enjoy supporting the efforts of UIC’s pediatric oncology department,” Kelly said. 

Anthony Heard, a social worker in UI Health’s Child and Youth Center, will also get his second head-shaving for St. Baldrick’s next week.

“I skipped a year because the sister of my girlfriend at the time was getting married and I was instructed to keep my hair,” Heard said.

Heard has several reasons to participate: his mother is a survivor of multiple cancers, he works with pediatric oncology patients and the event is an opportunity to connect with other hospital staff who care for children with cancer.

“Plus, there’s always the free haircut!” he said.

Donate to the Children’s Hospital University of Illinois St. Baldrick’s team online. To volunteer to participate, email

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