MU students, faculty and staff go bald for childhood cancer research

Heads shaved at fundraising event for pediatric cancer patients

More than 60 University of Missouri students, faculty and staff members will have their heads shaved to support childhood cancer research at the second annual Conquer Kids’ Cancer! fundraising celebration.

The event will be held 5 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Bleu, 811East Walnut St. in Columbia (formerly Boone Tavern).

Organized by MU medical students, the event is sponsored by the MU School of Medicine and MU Children’s Hospital, along with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Each year, St. Baldrick's raises funds by hosting events throughout the world where volunteers shave their heads in solidarity with children who typically lose their hair during treatment for cancer. Five local pediatric cancer patients will be honored at the April 14 event in Columbia, including 4-year-old Phoenix, who was diagnosed with cancer in January.

“This is new territory for us, so we are happy we have found the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to help us connect with other families who can understand our experience,” said LaDawn Cole, Phoenix’s mother. “We are determined to defeat cancer, and we are blessed to have our friends and family and organizationslike St. Baldrick’s to stand with us as we make this journey.”

Cole said her smart, funny and outgoing little girl has already received radiation therapy, and she and her family are bracing to begin four cycles of chemotherapy treatment in May. Phoenix is looking forward to participating April 14 and having some fun in between treatments.

Events like the one on April 14 have raised approximately $138 million. The funding provides grants to physicians and scientists at more than 200 institutions who are pursuing the most promising cures for childhood cancer and making clinical trials more available to children. In 2011,the pediatric hematology and oncology division at MU benefited from those grant funds.

Worldwide, more than 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year, and cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States.

To make a donation or volunteer to participate in the event, visit http://www.stbaldricks.org/events/mizzou or contact MU medical student Ryan Matthews at (314) 724-5755.

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