OPA to host St. Baldrick’s for fourth year

Tyler Prochazka

Some students donate money for charity. Others volunteer their time. But this weekend, WKU students are going bald.

This Saturday, Omega Phi Alpha is hosting its fourth annual St. Baldrick’s day celebration, in coordination with the St. Baldrick’s foundation, which features students cutting and shaving their hair in order to raise money for childhood cancer research.

The event will be held after the baseball game at approximately 6 p.m. by the baseball field. Students can still sign up to participate, and sign-up will be available at the event.

Paducah junior Mary Riley, Omega Phi Alpha’s mental health committee head, is in charge of planning the event. She said last year the event raised $10,000, but has a goal to raise at least $12,000 this year.

To raise the money, the people having their hair shaved or cut are asked to raise at least $50, but this is not required, Riley said.

“It makes me so happy to see so many people on campus come and support an event like St. Baldrick’s,” Riley said.

For Omega Phi Alpha, this event is the biggest one they plan and has become especially important because one of their sisters had to battle cancer, Riley said.

Crestwood senior Alyson Cooke had cancer for most of 2011, during her sophomore year of college.

Cooke had to do chemotherapy, and the doctor said the best case scenario would be that her tumor wouldn’t spread, but that it wouldn’t go away either.

“I think this is a miracle,” she said. “Not only is it not spreading, but the entire tumor is gone.”

Last year, Cooke spoke at the St. Baldrick’s event about her cancer, and at the time, she had just finished her chemotherapy.

She said she thinks cancer is something that has affected everyone.

“Everyone knows someone who had cancer or currently has cancer,” she said. “This is the way to give back and honor those who have passed on from cancer.”

Louisville junior Bailey Mack, who is also part of Omega Phi Alpha, said she is participating because of her own experiences seeing others facing cancer, including her Girl Scout leader, who had breast cancer, and a neighbor who had leukemia.

“It’s hard not to get attached and want to fight for funding and more information for people who are fighting against cancer,” Mack said.

The event is expected to draw 200 to 300 people with about 30 or more actually getting their hair cut or shaved, Riley said. This will include a group of members from the Nashville women’s rugby team, who have already raised $1,600 for the event.

Last year, one girl was able to raise $5,000 to shave her own head as part of a goal she made to raise as much money as possible to fight cancer and the disastrous effects it can have on children, Riley said.

“When children get cancer that young, it is really hard for them to survive,” she said.

When Mack attended last year, she said that the experiences that were shared of people’s struggle with cancer stuck out to her.

“It’s a very powerful experience even if you don’t have anyone directly who was affected by cancer,” Mack said.

Mack said it was “inspiring” to see people getting involved to help, and that it is important students continue to be involved in events like St. Baldrick’s because they “are more powerful as a group.”

“So what that we’re students, so what that we’re not in the ‘real world,’” Mack said. “We’re still making a difference.”