The South Shore's first St. Baldrick's event raised more than $66,000 for childhood cancer research and drew 168 "shavees," but organizer Christy Smith doesn't plan to stop there.
Smith hopes to raise at least $50,000 during the 2013 St. Baldrick's, a night where participants shave their heads for the Northern Nevada Children's Cancer Foundation.
Smith's grandson, Bailey Johnson, was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma - a cancer commonly found in infants - in 1999. He was 9 months old at the time. -
"No parent should have to hear those four words, 'Your child has cancer,'" Smith said.
"Because of his situation, I said when he's well I have to help other families hopefully not have to do what we had to do."
Bailey, 14, has been cancer-free for nine years now, but he still suffers from the side effects of the disease and the poisonous chemotherapy. He has a narrowed aorta that prevents him from playing many sports, reduced hearing, and several of his adult teeth won't ever come in.
He'll live with those effects the rest of his life, Smith said.
It's one of the reasons the whole family supports the St. Baldrick's Foundation. The organization's first head-shaving event started 13 years ago in Manhattan at a St. Patrick's Day party. The group raised $104,000 for childhood cancer that year. In 2002, St. Baldrick's events raised the first million.
According to the St. Baldrick's website, more children die of cancer than any other disease in the U.S. One in 300 boys and 1 in 333 girls will have cancer before they turn 20 years old.
This year will be Smith's seventh time going bald - "It's hair. It grows back," she said - while Bailey will shave his head for the eighth year in a row. It's an important statement and show of solidarity, Smith said.
"We say, 'You've been bald before. You don't need to go bald. But he's adamant. He wants to help, too," Smith said.