Sara Bermingham

St. Bonaventure University freshman Sara Bermingham shows off her new ‘do after shaving her head for cancer research before her field hockey game on Senior Night in East Aurora last Oct. 23. She’ll follow suit Oct. 18 at SBU for “Goin’ Bald for Bucks,” a fundraiser aiming to raise $25,000, with other students and university faculty and staff.

 

 

Organizers aim to raise $25,000

ST. BONAVENTURE — Sara Bermingham doesn’t mind going bald. In fact, the freshman St. Bonaventure University student thinks it’s beautiful.

Especially when there’s a powerful message behind it. Especially when there’s money to be raised for cancer research.

Ms. Bermingham will join other Bonaventure students, faculty and staff in “Goin’ Bald for Bucks” on Oct. 18. Organized by the SBU class of 2017 officers, funds raised during the public hair-removal event noon to 6 p.m. at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts are slated for Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo and Teens Living with Cancer in Rochester.

“My younger cousin Julia was diagnosed with cancer when she was 3 years old and has battled with it for more than half her life,” Ms. Bermingham told the Times Herald. “She is my biggest inspiration because I can never imagine going through what she has gone through and still (remaining) strong and positive.”

Ms. Bermingham has done this before. Last Oct. 23, during her Senior Night field hockey game, the East Aurora native shaved her head and raised roughly $7,000.

“I think ‘Bald for Bucks’ is such an easy way to raise awareness and money,” Ms. Bermingham said. “To me, hair grows back, and it makes such a statement to other kids going through what my cousin is going through. The money goes to cancer research and gives hope to others for a promising future.”

Her cousin is now 11 years old and has recently started another round of chemotherapy to battle leukemia.

Organizers are aiming to raise $25,000. As of Thursday afternoon, the cause had already gathered approximately $6,000 at St. Bonaventure.

And they’re urging surrounding communities to get involved.

“Goin’ Bald for Bucks,” a Buffalo-based nonprofit, typically targets high schools for fundraising efforts, said sophomore class President James “J.W.” Cook, one of the event’s organizers. Getting area colleges involved this year — and potentially in years to come — would help greatly, he said.

“We would love to see the community come out,” Mr. Cook added, noting the haircuts will cost $10. “... We have had a lot of student participation, and I think that this event could become an annual event. It would be great to combine our efforts with another local school like JCC.

“Cancer affects everyone, and we need the support of the surrounding community to help raise awareness and funds for this great cause.”

Indeed, Mr. Cook has been one of those affected by cancer. He’ll be going bald for his “Nana,” Barbara, who was diagnosed with large-type B-cell lymphoma last June.

“She is not alone. I have her back,” Mr. Cook said.

Graduate student Joel Rosencrance’s hair is about 6 inches long — covering his face if it’s not held back with a hat or headband. So it’s high time for a trim, he said.

Mr. Rosencrance, who played on the Bonaventure baseball team the past two seasons, hopes to raise $15,000 on his own.

“I've always wanted to donate my hair to a foundation that helps create wigs for those battling cancer, so I've been growing my hair out for Pantene Beautiful Lengths,” he added. “... I'm not really doing too much besides growing my hair, so I don't think it's a great act, but if I can grow my hair out and encourage donations as well as have someone feel a little better after they get a wig, that's great.”

If the St. Bonaventure University community and supporters reach the $25,000 goal, Rick Trietley, vice president for student affairs and student government adviser, will also go bald. He’d be doing so for his late mother, Mary, who went to the emergency room on New Year’s Eve last year for pain treatment and died from cancer three weeks later.

“The blessing is that her death was quick, but her story illustrates how cancer can be so destructive and painful,” Mr. Trietley said. “Like most sons, I wish that I would have had more time with her. She was a strong and loving person.”

Mr. Trietley said he’s being offered up as a “two-for-one deal” with Father Francis Di Spigno, executive director of SBU’s university ministries.

“SBU is rooted in numerous Franciscan traditions that are highlighted in an event like ‘Bald for Bucks,’” Mr. Trietley said. “We place great value on service, care for the sick and respect for all. A cause such like this is a perfect fit from a mission perspective … Cancer must be stopped.”

“Goin’ Bald for Bucks” began in Western New York when a cancer patient’s brother vowed to keep his head shaved until his sister’s hair grew back. More than 10 years later, more than 70 schools and organizations across New York have combined to raise more than $2.4 million for research and support.

General donations will be accepted before and during the event. Contact Mr. Cook at cookjw13@bonaventure.edu for more information.

(Contact reporter Kelsey M. Boudin at kboudin@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @KelseyMBoudin)

 
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