Give to St. Baldrick’s

I know earnings season kicks off today, but I’m going to take a little break from the stock market to celebrate being alive, and to show you a way to help somebody else celebrate being alive. It’s not a small thing.

When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with cancer of the spinal cord. I could barely walk from the pressure on my nerves. Doctor Robert Hendee at Denver Children’s Hospital saved my life in a 12-hour surgery during which he was able to remove 80% of the tumor. He later told my parents that his heart sank when he saw the tumor, because he knew immediately that it was malignant and that the odds were against me. He’d believed prior to the surgery that the tumor was benign.

I was not expected to live. If I did live, I was not expected to walk.

Thanks to Dr. Hendee and the oncology team that took over after the surgery to administer chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I’m alive and walking today. Two-and-a-half decades have passed since my personal saga, but I can still describe for you the smell of the radiation room, the feel of my lower back being shaved for a myelogram, and the sound of instruments clinking on a metal tray before a procedure. If I think about it long enough, the memories can still make me very quiet.

I walked away from the hospital, but many of the children who were there with me did not. Kids I played games with and talked with and watched go bald, never had the same future that I was granted. I know their names well. Few others ever will.

To save children like those I met at Children’s Hospital, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation raises money each year through a fun strategy that helps kids feel less ashamed of going bald during cancer treatment. From the site:

St. Baldrick’s is the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraising event for childhood cancer research. Thousands of volunteers shave their heads in solidarity of children with cancer, while requesting donations of support from friends and family.

At a St. Baldrick’s event, something amazing happens. People who normally shy away from the very thought of childhood cancer find themselves compelled to support this cause after looking into the face of these brave children who are smiling broadly as their friends and family members proudly display their newly shorn heads.

Volunteers and donors see it can be fun to support a serious cause. Young cancer patients and survivors see how many people care. And researchers see St. Baldrick’s funds helping to find cures!

Now, there’s another part of the story I’d like to share.

My mother barely survived a horseback riding accident about 18 months ago. Our community in the Rocky Mountains rallied around our family during the time that she was in a coma, just as they rallied around us when I nearly died from childhood cancer, and when one of my sisters nearly died when she was born three months premature. If ever you’re unhappy in your family, just be glad you’re not a Kelly!

As a way to give back to her community for its many years of supporting our family, my mother — who is still recovering from her accident — has signed up as a St. Baldrick’s “shavee” with a goal of raising $2,000.

There are plenty of people in my circle who could take care of that whole $2k in one fell swoop, including Yours Truly, but that’s not the point. It’s a more meaningful campaign if many people make small contributions to become a larger team focused on curing childhood cancer, which takes more children’s lives in America than any other ailment.

So, if you’re doing well after last week’s rise in the market, or for any other reason, and you:

  • can spare a few bucks, and

  • would like to save a little baldy just like the ones I knew at Children’s Hospital, and

  • want to see what my mother looks like with a shaved head, then…

please go to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website where you can help my mother achieve her goal. Here’s the link:

St. Baldrick's Foundation

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