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For the kids -- Pirates shave heads for cancer

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Chip Stewart volunteers to have his head shaved during the annual Pirates vs. Cancer event Friday, April 13, 2018.

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Mackenzie Tewksbury
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Lacie Wallace and Ann Tooley sat nervously in front of a crowd of people as they watched eight inches of their hair fall to the floor in an effort to raise awareness for childhood cancer. 

Tooley and Wallace were two of about 40 participants who chose to either cut off at least eight inches of hair or shave their heads at the second annual Pirates Vs Cancer event at the Health Sciences Student Center on Friday.

The event is a student-led fundraiser at The Brody School of Medicine that focuses on raising money and awareness for pediatric cancer. 

“(Hair) is just something we had and we take for granted and something that’d be really meaningful for someone else,” Tooley said.

The fundraiser raised $23,000, surpassing the original goal of $20,000. Half of the funds will go to Vidant Medical Center and the other half will go to childhood cancer research.

Wallace and Tooley, both medical students, said the event is a great way for them to give back to the community; something that is sometimes hard to fit in with their busy schedules. 

“We don’t have a lot of time to be volunteering as much as we did,” Wallace said. “Through this one act we raise money for Vidant and childhood cancer research and the hair we donated is used to make wigs.”

Chip Stewart, 26, has spent time volunteering with pediatric oncology patients and knows most of the children do not have the choice to shave their head.  For him, it was the least he could do. 

“It hits a lot of them hard ... and knowing that I had the choice and that I could try to make a difference in some people’s lives I decided to take the plunge and do it for the kids,” Stewart said. 

Marissa Burchette, organizer of the event, said children from the Maynard’s Children’s Hospital assist with some of the head shaving, and newly accepted medical students attend the event as well. She said it’s a nice way to give people a “first look” into what the Brody School of Medicine is all about. 

“We’re not necessarily just sequestered in our study cubicles,” Burchette said. “We are outreaching the community and raising funds. We’re standing in solidarity with childhood cancer and survivors.” 

And as more and more people stepped up to the shaving station, the atmosphere remained full of energy, loud laugher and ear-to-ear grins as medical, dental and nursing students continued to shed their hair for a good cause. 

“I can feel the wind on my head for the first time ever and it’s glorious,” Stewart said, with a laugh.

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