Bald Heads, Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose

Saturday was the big St. Baldrick’s shaving event our charity, Donna’s Good Things, sponsored.  I am still reeling.  To be on the receiving end of such love and support and action is humbling, astounding, and quite honestly, a little paralyzing for me.

At the root of all of this is Donna, our little girl.  The utter success of Saturday’s event is proof positive that her bright light, gone two years, five months and five days, still shines.  All that goodness she inspires fills me up.

$72,000 and still counting (unofficially) is what was raised.  Those dollars will go directly to St. Baldrick’s and be used to fund research for pediatric cancer.   We are currently $52K above goal.  WOW.  Never in a million years did we think Donna’s Good Things would become a force in Cancerville.

The purpose of our charity is two-fold:  1) to do Good Things that provide joyful opportunities for kids in difficult situations; and 2) to encourage others to do Good Things in Donna’s name, helping to fulfill her potential that was cut so dreadfully short.

When I wrote Donna’s Cancer Story in September, I had no idea what it would lead to.  Like most things in my busy life, I was just thinking about the day at hand — what am I responsible for today?  What needs to be done? For thirty-one days, that was tell the story of Donna’s cancer.  My sincere belief was that if people came to know Donna, they would know pediatric cancer and how devastating it is for these kids and their families.  And to know Donna was to love her, so in bringing her to people my hope was that knowing would become loving would become doing.  I’m strategic like that.

Saturday was the culmination of that doing for one reader.  Jamie is a mom like me.  She works outside the home like me.  She has young children like me.  Something in Donna’s story touched her so deeply that her knowing turned into doing pretty quickly.  Soon after the story ended, Jamie contacted me with the idea to host a St. Baldrick’s event.  She herself was in to shave and was committed to raising $5K.  I was a little bowled over, but I was in. Yes, of course, I wanted to help.

We first met on Jamie’s birthday.  Why she wanted to spend her birthday with a stranger organizing a charity event months away, I don’t know, but I am indebted to her.  That first night I found myself shying away from Jamie’s lofty goals.  Crazy high numbers were being thrown around and they scared the stuffing out of me.  There is nothing worse that trying to raise $ to honor your dead child and not meeting the goal.  Seriously, it is like another little death.  I cautioned reserve and a much lower goal of $20K.  Jamie was optimistic.  I was cautious.

Getting from $20K to $72K was a lot of work and involved loads of folks: The shavees who were going under the razor, the volunteers who gave time and energy, the donors who opened wallets and dug deep, and the blogging community who sounded their drums to get the word out loudly and repeatedly.  $72K for pediatric cancer research would not have happened without any of them.

Saturday’s event is still a bit of a whir to me.  I likened it to a wedding, as it is the only thing I can think of that captures the emotion, joy, good cheer, and optimism of the event.  Plus, it was crazy like a big wedding is crazy.  People wanted to be photographed with me.  People stood in line to meet me. People handed me cards with supportive words as I met them.  And like any good wedding that you’re in the middle of, I neither ate nor drank during it.  I was too busy meeting and greeting and crying and dancing.

People came from across the country for the shave.  ACROSS THE COUNTRY.  I mean, come on!  I was freaked out to meet folks, but especially women, that were not only willing to shave their head because I asked them to, but were willing to fly and drive across the country to do it. And there were dozens of people who did this.  Many of whom raised thousands of dollars.  Yowzers.  Talk about committed.  These folks, lined up for the shears, were proof that Donna was not forgotten.  And while I am not able to tuck her in or fix her fish sticks, I am able to tell her story.  And $72K later, it is clear that folks are not only listening, but doing.

And before I get to the photos, just a few moments of gratitude:

  • Thank you to Jamie for being moved to do something, and allowing me to help;
  • Thank you to all of our shavees who traveled near and far to participate in St. Baldrick’s goal of conquering kids cancer.  You raised $ and are now raising awareness.  I am at a loss to tell you what your actions mean to me;
  • Thank you to Nikki of Moms Who Drink and Swear for being the best MC this gal could ever ask for;
  • Thank you to Katy of I Want a Dumpster Baby who sold the heck out of iPad raffle tickets;
  • Thank you to Robert Jeffrey Salon who provided volunteer stylists for all our heads;
  • Thank you to Candlelite Chicago who could not have been kinder or more accommodating in the use of their fine establishment;
  • Thank you to the St. Margaret Mary community who offered their parking lot and have allowed Donna and her story to enter into the hearts and minds of the beautiful children who study there;
  • Thank you to TK Photography for shooting the event for Donna’s Good Things;
  • Thank you to the DOZENS of bloggers across the country who supported this event and encouraged their readers to do the same;
  • Thank you to Heather of St. Baldrick’s for taking us under your wing — it’s a lovely, warm place to be;
  • Thank you to my Dad for just sitting at the bar and taking it all in — witnessing what his granddaughter was still capable of doing;
  • Thank you to all of our silent auction donors and table workers;
  • Thank you to Amanda Cohen at Fine Point Productions for providing some of the most amazing face painting I have ever seen;
  • Thank you to all the supporters who came out in droves to cheer on your shavee;
  • Thank you to Julie with Lifesource and Be the Match who dropped her plans for a family event to set up a bone marrow drive
  • Our speakers, Dr. Rishi Lulla from Children’s Memorial in Chicago and our survivor friend, Brooke, who came out with her family to talk to the crowd about what cancer is like when you’re a kid in treatment;
  • Foster Dance Studios in Evanston for choreographing the Firework flash mob;
  • Performing Arts Limited for supporting Donna’s Good Things in a hundred different ways.

Whew.  Now I only need to worry about who I am missing, which I am certain of there are many.  Well, that’s for me to obsess over.  How bouts’ you obsess over some of these photos.  This is what knowing and loving and doing look like:

crowd scene
So many people!
Mother-Daughter shavees
Husband-Wife shavees all the way from Michigan.
Our youngest shavees — so brave!
PAL Studio
Our “PALS” from Performing Arts Limited
Dr. Lulla
Dr. Lulla talks about the realities of pediatric cancer.
Ellen shaving with a brew. Thumbs up, girl!
Flash Mob
Firework flash mob!
Dollars and Hair
Taking it all off for a few bucks!
Joining the bone marrow donor national registry is easy!
Bald Beauties
Look at our bald beauties. Lovely ladies.
Shavin' Shelleys
The Shavin’ Shelleys from Georgia! They are peachy!
Audience shot
What you see when you’re being shaved.
Deb triumphs
Deb wins the prize for distance travel — came from California to shave!
Blogger Royalty
The Blogger Brigade!

4 Replies to “Bald Heads, Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”

  1. Your powerful writing brought Donna to life and gave so much hope to pediatric cancer. Congratulations on showing us all how to reach that unreachable star. Impossible not to love your family – I am only sad that, unlike the beautiful Deb, I couldn’t fly out from California to be there.


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