Pediatrics raises $20k for childhood cancer research

St. Baldrick's Foundation hosted by the Children's Hospital University of Illinois at UI Health
UI Health nurse Jessica Garcia gets some help with her new look from former patient Brandon Rangle, 11, during a fundraising event for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation hosted by the Children’s Hospital University of Illinois on Feb. 21, 2020. (Photo: Joshua Clark)

The Children’s Hospital University of Illinois raised more than $20,000 to support pediatric cancer research and clinical trials on Feb. 21.

During the two-hour event, 18 individuals from the UIC community — more than half of them women — volunteered to shave their heads as part of the hospital’s annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser.

The money raised this year breaks a record for the hospital event.

Cancer survivor Brandon Rangel, 11, was there to participate. He helped to give four pediatric nurses their new looks.

Perla Rangel, Brandon’s mom, said the event supports great organizations and that “it’s awesome that everyone comes out.”

Brandon was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2013.

“These nurses have taken care of him for a long time,” Perla Rangel said.

St. Baldrick's Foundation hosted by the Children's Hospital University of Illinois at UI Health
UI Health’s Jocelyn Mallard braces herself as a volunteer removes her hair. It was Mallard’s third time participating in the fundraiser. (Photo: Joshua Clark)

Jocelyn Mallard, one of the pediatric nurses, said shaving her head is more than “a great way to keep away the gray.”

“All of us have worked on the floor, caring for our patients for many years. It gets to a point when you just want to do something ‘more,'” Mallard said.

“This. This is more,” she said. “What better way for us to shout, ‘We’re all in with you.'”

Mallard and her colleagues Christine Easley, Jessica Garcia and Joel
Ayamolowo collectively raised more than $4,000, with donations from many of their colleagues in the pediatrics department.

James Kelly, the event’s top individual fundraiser, participated in the event with his daughter, Danielle, who is also a cancer survivor.

“It’s a great event. It means a lot to come back every year,” said Kelly, who brought in about $5,400.

Kirsten Ohler, UIC College of Pharmacy faculty member and PGY1 residency director, raised $4,600.

The event also drew a number of community members, including medical students from Rush hospital, a teacher from Naperville and adult cancer survivors.

Over the last 10 years, the children’s hospital and its clinical trials group has received more than $2.1 million from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Thanks to the funding, the UI Health/Rush/Stroger Children’s Oncology Group can place patients in nearly 100 open clinical trials. These trials include front-line treatment for many types of childhood cancers, studies to determine the underlying biology of these diseases, and trials on new and emerging treatments, supportive care and survivorship.

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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