CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — Some may have spent their Saturday celebrating St. Patrick’s Day a little early.
But one group at the Greenville Inn in Chagrin Falls was celebrating St. Baldrick’s Day.
It included Liam Hammond and his sister, Kaitlin, who is a cancer survivor. Liam and more than a dozen others shaved their heads for an event meant to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which works to battle childhood cancer.
According to the foundation, a child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes. One in five will not survive. Most federal cancer research funding does not go toward childhood cancer, according to the foundation.
Kaitlin was diagnosed with cancer when she was five.
“I remember it was on my dad’s birthday when I wasn’t feeling good, so we had to go to the hospital,” she said.
But this month, she’ll be celebrating five years of being cancer-free. The St. Balderick event was a good way for her family to celebrate that milestone. Most children who have cancer lose their hair during treatment.
“I felt really sad, because I knew she had a low chance of surviving, but I tried to keep it on the positive and stay happy around her to keep her happy,” said Liam. “Even if someone says you probably couldn’t make it, you probably could, because my sister had a 40 percent chance. So, basically, the odds are always on your side.”
“I feel happy, because now I know how she felt and how it feels to be bald,” said Liam.
Kaitlin said she’s impressed with her brother.
“I felt he was being really kind, and I’m glad he raised so much money for it,” said Kaitlin.
One of the organizers, Andrew Smith, said over $250,000 was raised in Cleveland last year through the event. Participants collect money from friends and family and take turns having their heads shaved at the event.
“People who don’t even know each other talk to other people, ask them why they’re doing this, share stories, and everyone just has a great time,” said Smith.
Smith said the proceeds stay here locally, toward employing experts at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, for example. It also goes toward helping fight and research childhood cancer nationally.
Many of the participants have had cancer or know people who have. Kaitlin has one tip for them.
“I just tell them to keep their head up because life is life, and you’re going to make it through, I promise,” she said.
For more on the St. Balderick Foundation, click here.