More than $3,000 raised for childhood cancer research at student-led fundraiser
An image of people who had their heads shaved
Back row, from left, Brandon Butzin, husband of M2 Kaitlyn Butzin; Max Kuang, M2; Nathan Huang, M2; Andrew Glaza, M3; Joel Karsten, M2; Olivia Walker, wife of David Walker, M2; David Walker; Neelesh Peddireddy, M2. Front, from left, Marlee Mason-Maready, M4, Everett James Wasserman, Sachin Pathangey, M2.

Two student organizations from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine recently collaborated to raise more than $3,000 for childhood cancer research.

The Oncology Interest Group (OncIG) and Pediatric Interest Group (PIG) worked together on the “Shave to Save St. Baldrick’s Fundraiser for Pediatric Cancer Research.”

A total of 11 people shaved their heads as part of the event, either to raise money or show solidarity for the cause.

Alicia Bui, M2, president, OncIG called the event “a huge success.”

“Our goal initially was $1,000 and we tripled that so I’m really happy,” she said. “And I was really happy to see so many new faces at the event, including an M4.”

Perhaps most importantly, she said, the event helps raise awareness to childhood pediatric cancer research.

According to its website, the St. Baldrick's Foundation is a volunteer- and donor-powered charity dedicated to raising money for lifesaving childhood cancer research, and funds more in childhood cancer grants than any organization except for the U.S. government.

Since the foundation's first grants as an independent charity in 2005, St. Baldrick's has invested more than $342 million in childhood research grants worldwide.

At OUWB, the OncIG hosts a fundraiser annually.

An image of an OUWB student having her head shaved

Marlee Mason-Maready, M4, has her head shaved during the fundraiser.

Prior to the event, participants collect donations via webpages they set up through St. Baldrick’s.

Then, they step up and have their heads shaved in front of a supportive crowd that cheers them on. Mario’s Barbershop of Rochester Hills donated its services for the event.

Bui said people want to get involved for various reasons.

“It’s just a great cause,” she said. “It’s something that brings people together, either to participate or watch. And then other people joined in at the last minute…they see how exciting the event is and start to realize how the impact it can have and suddenly want to participate.”

M2 Joel Karsten, vice president, OncIG, was the first to have his head shaved.

“It’s a lot of fun and it’s for a good cause,” he said. “I’m happy to be part of something that raises so much money for cancer research.”

Participants like Karsten were all smiling as they watched others, like Neelesh Peddireddy, M2, get their heads shaved and never seemed to forget the purpose of the event.

“I have a couple of people who I’ve lost to childhood cancer so it’s to honor them and do my part to give back,” he said.  

Peddireddy said it “was a bit weird” to have his head shaved in front of so many people but added that now his hair “is one less thing to worry about while studying for Step.”

An image of the husband and wife who had their heads shaved

M2 David Walker and his wife had their heads shaved together. 

M2 David Walker and his wife, Olivia Walker, teamed to raise more than $1,000 for the fundraiser. They had their heads shaved together.

“I always wanted to shave my head and thought this would be a great opportunity to do it and raise some money for a good cause,” said Olivia Walker. “It was fun…a great experience.”

Everett James Wasserman, 7, son of Jason Wasserman, Ph.D., professor, Department of Foundational Medical Studies, raised more than $1,000 so he could get a mohawk-style haircut.

“I wanted to help fight cancer,” he said, and added that it was “a little scary” to get a haircut in front of so many people.

Jason Wasserman, a longtime participant in the St. Baldrick’s event at OUWB, said he was supportive of his son because raising money for childhood cancer is “a kind of moral imperative in our society.”

“Cancer research is advancing at a rapid pace, but cancers are also really complex diseases to try to tackle and it’s going to take a lot of resources and social coordination to be able to really make progress on some of these issues,” he said. “For as much progress that’s been made, we’ve got a long way to go.”

“The cliché that every little bit helps is true,” he added.

“That’s why we wanted to pitch in.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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