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MU Medical Students Shave Their Heads for Childhood Cancer Research

University of Missouri medical students led their community in raising money for childhood cancer research by shaving their heads Saturday, April 13, 2013. The event, which shows solidarity with pediatric cancer patients who lost their hair as a result of treatment, supports the St. Baldrick’s Foundation – the largest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer research.

“More children are lost to cancer in the United States than from any other disease, yet only 4 percent of U.S. federal funding for cancer research goes toward the types that afflict children,” said Thomas Loew, MD, director of hematology and oncology at MU’s Department of Child Health and Children’s Hospital. “It’s a real testament to our medical students that they recognize the need to help children with cancer and organized to make a difference.”

Several children in the Columbia and surrounding communities attended the fundraising event on April 13 as part of the medical students’ “Honored Kids” program. The brave “Honored Kids” and others could potentially benefit from lifesaving research supported by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

One childhood cancer patient who was at the event is Claire Forshee. Claire was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August 2010 and was treated at MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital. She completed her treatment Nov. 5, 2012, one day after her 10th birthday. Today, Claire has resumed jazz and tap classes. She also enjoys running, riding her bike and playing with her new dog, Oreo, according to Claire’s mother, Nicole Forshee, who joined her daughter at the event.

Each year, St. Baldrick’s raises funds by hosting events throughout the world where volunteers shave their heads in solidarity with children who typically lose their hair during treatment for cancer. Last year, MU medical students raised more than $55,000 for the foundation. This year they raised more than $42,000. Events like the one on April 13 have raised more than $162 million nationwide for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation since the organization’s inception in 2000.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation funds more childhood cancer research grants than any other organization except for the U.S. government. The funding provides grants to physicians and scientists at more than 200 institutions who are pursuing the most promising cures for childhood cancer and making clinical trials more available to children.