Emmaus Students 'Shave for the Brave' on Friday
The Shave for the Brave fundraiser, which supports pediatric cancer research, is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday in the Emmaus High School gym.
Special to Emmaus Patch By Chrissy Cilento, Emmaus High School Senior
Cancer. It’s something that has affected us all, whether distantly or directly. Many people feel they’re left helpless by this disease, however, for one teacher at Emmaus High School, her experience with cancer had just the opposite effect, inspiring her to create the event the Shave for the Brave at EHS to help children diagnosed with cancer.
Upon finding that her mother had breast cancer in the fall of 2009, Track and Field Coach Shannon Petrunak decided she wanted to support her mom by shaving her head along with her. By the time she could get to Pittsburgh to reach her, though, all her hair had already fallen out. Petrunak didn’t let the idea go, and tried to figure out a way that she could shave her head for more than just herself. A Google search pointed her to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation online and made her decide to be a Volunteer Event Organizer.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is an organization whose mission is to spend as little as possible to raise money for pediatric cancer research. 82 percent of every dollar raised goes directly to finding cures for pediatric cancer. Through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s Shave for the Brave events, Petrunak and anyone else who wanted to could shave their heads, and raise money for childhood cancer research simultaneously by having people pledge donations to them to do it.
Petrunak’s first Shave for the Brave event at EHS in 2010 raised $24,567 and the next year that amount skyrocketed to $39,921. This year, Petrunak hopes to match her 2011 success and says she “neurotically check[s] the website every hour or so” to see where things stand. So far, just over $25,000 have been pledged, so there’s further to go before reaching her goal. 83 courageous East Penn students and community members have already signed up online to shave their heads, but Petrunak anticipates more walk-ins at the event. Of those 83, 29 are females, which is already more than last time.
My sister Meghan is one of the shavees and is incredibly excited -- and of course, nervous -- about the upcoming event. A freshman at EHS, she remembers hearing from me about how cool previous events were and decided she wanted to help the cause. For her, shaving her head is a way not only to raise money for kids’ cancer research, but also to show support for the kids living with it. She says, “I decided to shave my head because I know there are kids out there every day who have no choice. I want to show them that I’m behind them and that I support their fight with cancer.”
For Petrunak, the event is an opportunity for shavees, sponsors and volunteers alike to become a little more selfless. “It’s easy to get caught up in our society’s obsession with self,” she says, “but I believe it’s very important to take time out of our busy schedules to do something for others without any expectation of receiving something in return. A St. Baldrick’s event is a perfect opportunity for people looking to do something beyond themselves... We never know when cancer will strike, and the least I can do is support a cause that battles every family’s worst nightmare.”
The Shave for the Brave Event this year will be held in the EHS gym at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 21. Even if you’re not shaving your head, the event is incredibly inspiring, as shavees cry tears of anticipation and happiness while electric razors buzz away at their hair. Petrunak describes shaving her head for St. Baldrick’s as “one of the most significant things [she’s] ever done in her life,” and encourages everyone to attend, saying it will be a night you won’t forget!
If you’d like to sponsor a shavee, visit www.stbaldricks.org/events/emmaus and click on the “View Participants” tab to choose the person you’d like to sponsor. You can also donate cash or checks made out to the St. Baldrick’s foundation or phone in your donation.
Chrissy Cilento, a senior at Emmaus High School, plans to study journalism in college. She is a periodic contributor to Patch.