St. Baldrick’s event at UI Health raises funds for pediatric cancer research

Ashley Roman, a UIC student majoring in mechanical engineering, gets her head shaved during the annual St. Baldrick's fundraiser at the Children's Hospital University of Illinois Feb. 18.
Ashley Roman, a UIC student majoring in mechanical engineering, gets her head shaved during the annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser at the Children’s Hospital University of Illinois Feb. 18. (Joshua Clark/University of Illinois Chicago)

The Children’s Hospital University of Illinois raised more than $9,400 at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation head-shaving event Feb. 18 to support pediatric cancer research and clinical trials. 

In a return to the in-person event, nine individuals from the UIC community volunteered to shave their heads as part of the hospital’s annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser. 

The event also honored the Do It For Dominic Fund, which selected the UIC/Rush/Stroger Children’s Oncology Group Clinical Trials Program for a $50,000 grant. The grant helps fund clinical trials for pediatric cancer patients at the three hospitals.  

“This allows patients to both receive the most up-to-date therapies and contribute to new knowledge, which will hopefully lead to more, better and healthier futures for all young patients with cancer,” said Dr. Mary Lou Schmidt, a professor of pediatric hematology/oncology at the UIC College of Medicine. “We’re thrilled to offer cutting-edge clinical trials to these patients.”  

Anna Cairo, Dominic’s mother, watched as volunteer barbers from Capelli Academy of Cosmetology shaved the participants’ heads.  

“Dominic would have been pretty proud of all the support this event receives from the community,” Cairo said. “We do this in the hope that children don’t have to go through what he went through.” 

According to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, “Dominic was an incredibly sweet little boy with beautiful eyes who sadly did not survive the cancer that was diagnosed in 2008, just days before he started kindergarten. In his three-year cancer journey, he became a math wizard and taught himself chess. His family and devoted friends have been raising funds and awarding grants through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation since 2014.”

The UI Health’s St. Baldrick’s event has raised $225,828 since 2008 and shaved over 360 heads. Returning for the sixth time, UI Health staffer and shavee David Dreyfus was awarded the “Knight of the Bald Table” award by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.  

“My wife’s 10-year-old grandniece had lymphoma [now in remission]. I did it for her,” Dreyfus said. He has raised $1,600 in donations for this year’s event so far. 

UIC student Noah Toth, a pediatric cancer survivor, took photos and provided encouragement to his friend Ashley Roman, a UIC mechanical engineering student and first-time shavee. Roman was inspired by Toth to participate and raised $600 for the cause. She is also donating her shorn locks to the Beyoutiful Foundation. Rubbing her freshly shorn hair, Roman said, “I feel great!” 

Donations supporting any of the individuals who shaved their heads, or in honor of loved ones, can still be made online. 

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