Hair-raising good deeds

Videography by Sonya Booth

The conference room was ankle-deep in hair Thursday, after UIC staff, volunteers, families and friends went under the razor for the UI Hospital’s sixth annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation grew out of an idea among three friends: to shave their heads for donations to help kids with cancer. That was in 1999.

Today there are thousands of volunteer-organized events around the world, with participants gathering pledges, then undergoing voluntary baldness.

James Kelly, a senior project coordinator in civil and materials engineering at UIC, was the top participant at last week’s event, raising $3,205.

His youngest daughter Danielle was diagnosed with a brain tumor nearly 15 years ago; she’s currently undergoing another year of chemotherapy treatment.

CBS 2 cameraman Lou Kleinberg — joined by his son Ben — turned the camera on himself as his head was shaved to raise $2,155 at the hospital event. A CBS 2 crew team raised an additional $2,380.

Last year St. Baldrick’s volunteers around the world raised more than $30 million to fund research by the Children’s Oncology Group, a national association of institutions that includes UIC, Rush and Stroger medical centers.

Antonia Pyzik

Hospital interpreter Antonia Pyzik celebrates with a shamrock. Photo: Joshua Clark/UIC Photo Services

St. Baldrick’s recently awarded a one-year, $200,000 infrastructure grant to the UIC-Rush-Stroger partnership to conduct additional research and increase the number of young patients enrolled in clinical trials.

“We are so excited to have our patients and our families who are healthy participating now, when they’ve suffered so much,” said Mary Lou Schmidt, chief of pediatric hematology/concology.

“And it’s all because of the clinical trials and the opportunities through the Children’s Oncology Group — and that’s what St. Baldrick’s supports.”

Another head-shaving event will be held at UIC Campus Housing April 5. To participate in the upcoming event or donate to either fundraiser visit and search for University of Illinois at Chicago.

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