By Shannon Nia Alomar
For some men and women, a haircut is seen as a simple task to upkeep their appearance, but once a year at Hofstra, a quick cut helps raise money to find a cure for children diagnosed with cancer.
This year marked the 7th Annual St. Baldrick event on Hofstra’s campus. Through the efforts of students and faculty who participated this year, the University was able to raise well over $40,000. Seventy-five freshly-shaven and trim-headed Hofstra community members walked off the stage this year to help add to the cause.
Sixteen years ago, colleagues Tim Kenny, John Bender and Enda McDonnell created the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to raise money for kids with cancer. The idea of shaving heads to generate the donations was a unique one that helped to carry the organization from the late ‘90s to the present day. From its inception to now, the organization has raised well over $40 million to use towards research, programming and more.
Thomas Kostiw, Hofstra alumnus and volunteer event organizer, said he was one of the originators of the event at Hofstra in 2008 with the Hofstra Roller Hockey Club. This year, Kostiw said he wanted to honor former Dean of Students Peter Libman who initially helped to kick-start the event on campus.
“He was such a valuable resource as he reached out to departments and groups all over campus to get involved. He lost his battle with pancreatic cancer this past year and we miss him immensely. However, we do not forget the impact he left on this event and on our lives,” Kostiw said.
According to current Dean of Students Sofia Pertuz in a Hofstra University video interview on the day of the event, the highest donator this year was granted an award in Libman’s name.
Kostiw also said that over the years Hofstra has raised over $140,000 collectively and he personally enjoys seeing the Hofstra community come together year after year for the cause.
“In the US, one in five children diagnosed with cancer won’t survive. Currently, childhood cancer research funding accounts for less than 4 percent of all cancer research funding allotted by the federal government.
Since 2005, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation has granted more than $154 million, making it the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research grants. No child should have to fight cancer or suffer the effects of treatment and childhood cancer is largely underfunded. St. Baldrick’s helps provide the resources to research and treat this terrible disease,” Kostiw said.
Some students participated to help bring an active awareness about childhood cancer. Others, like junior business management major and Resident Assistant Joe Corbisiero, connected to the cause on a more personal level.
“Cancer unfortunately runs in my family, but I also felt like giving back this year… I thought it was great. It’s a lot of fun getting your head shaved in front of everyone. It was a lot of fun [and] it makes you feel good,” Corbisiero said. “Hair always grows back so you might as well have some fun. See what you look like bald before you have to get a real job. It’s all for the kids after all.”
Loulou Katz, junior classics major, also featured in the Hofstra University St. Baldrick recap video, said in years prior to this year she either “chickened out” or missed the event completely, but she felt like this year was the perfect year to shave her head.
“In 2004, my cousin died of cancer. He died of Leukemia and I think he was like 12 years old. He left behind his twin brother and it kind of hit our family really hard, so when I came to Hofstra I found out that they did St. Baldrick’s here so I figured I would try doing it,” Katz said in the video.
Anyone who has ever participated in the head shaving or witnessed it can openly say why it is important to participate. Kostiw, event organizer, feels getting involved is not only an interesting experience but a way to keep the conversation going for the greater message.
“First of all, it’s a great cause. Secondly, it raises a lot of awareness,” Kostiw said. “Having students and faculty walking around with bald heads will start a lot of conversation. People always ask why you are bald and they will all have a great story spreading awareness everywhere they go. Awareness leads to new donors and/or new participants which further helps the cause.”