University of Missouri School of Medicine students led the community in raising money for childhood cancer research by shaving their heads on April 9. The event, which shows solidarity with pediatric cancer patients who lost their hair as a result of treatment, supports the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. St. Baldrick’s is the largest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer research.
Hundreds of students, MU faculty and staff, and community supporters gathered to watch the 48 men and women who shaved their heads to support the cause. One supporter was Amy Williams, MD, an assistant professor of clinical family and community medicine and primary care physician at South Providence Medical Park. Williams said she shaved her head in honor of 5-year-old Bryson Pruitt Smith who died from a rare brain tumor in July of last year. Bryson’s family and friends founded Prayers for Bryson, a non-profit organization that aims to raise awareness about diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.
“I am shaving my head for Bryson because it is hard to find a more worthy cause to do so for,” Williams said. “I have been inspired by the strength and resilience of Bryson’s mother, Lily. My father died from cancer when I was five, and although I still feel his loss on a daily basis, that pales in comparison to the loss of a child. I stand in solidarity with Lily and families like hers.”
Williams also said she participated in the event to advance research for children with cancer.
“Unlike many fields of medicine, there has been rapid progress in survival for numerous types of childhood cancers,” Williams said. “This would not be possible without the generosity of people willing to donate.”
Each year, St. Baldrick’s raises funds by hosting events throughout the world where volunteers shave their heads. In the last six years, the Mizzou Med group has raised more than $230,000 for the St. Baldrick’s foundation, and nationwide events like the one at Logboat Brewery have raised more than $150 million since the organization’s inception in 2005.