By Jackie HOUCHIN
Jasmine McCann, a sophomore at Crescenta Valley High School, a player on the CV Falcons basketball team, and a saxophonist for the school band, was so moved by the plight of a young childhood friend that she did something most teen girls would never consider: She shaved her head.
Not on a dare, not as an act of rebellion, but to stand in solidarity with 12-year-old “Christine” who a year before was diagnosed with Burkett’s Lymphoma, a cancer that targets pre-teen girls. Christine lost all her hair through chemotherapy, but McCann willingly gave up hers to raise money to help find a cure.
Throughout the year, but especially in March, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation coordinates worldwide head-shaving events to raise money for childhood cancer research. The Foundation provides grants to institutions for lab research, and to help make clinical trials available to more children.
The first event took place in 2000 when three Irish executives in New York turned their annual St Patrick’s Day party into a fundraiser by shaving their heads in solidarity with kids with cancer. (St. Baldrick’s is a fusion of “St. Patrick’s Day” and “bald.”) Since then hundreds of thousands of heads have been shaved and millions of dollars have been raised.
On March 15, McCann and her father Tim, who has been a St. Baldrick’s “shavee” for 10 years – making him a “Knight of the Bald Table” – went to Matt Denny’s Ale House Restaurant in Arcadia for the event. More than 80 people signed up and received event T-shirts. The row of barber chairs was filled for most of the evening with volunteer hairstylists from the neighboring Del Sol Salon & Spa manning the clippers non-stop.
Tim recorded the event, flashing photos until he also was seated. The younger McCann was first handed a long lock of her hair for a keepsake, and then the buzzing began.
“It felt weird. And cold. They held up a mirror and I was shocked to see me,” McCann said. But she said she has no regrets. “It felt good to be doing something for someone other than myself.”
Her friends were shocked when she showed up at school the next day minus her dark, shoulder length hair. They knew about McCann’s decision – her fundraising page had been posted on the St. Baldrick’s Foundation site for a week and she’d been steadily collecting pledges – but they had not expected her to look so good. Indeed, with her flashing dark eyes, and the quarter-inch buzz cut with tiny wisps in front of her ears, McCann resembles a pixie.
McCann’s goal was to raise $1,000. She’s since surpassed that, but donations can still be made via the website. Before and after photos, some of the St. Baldrick’s kids, and learn more about the Foundation and its upcoming events at can also be found at http://bit.ly/fseYAM.