For the thirteenth year in a row, Chris Schmelzer and his family have hosted a St. Baldrick’s fundraiser in hopes of finding a cure for childhood cancer. This year the event brought in $83,500, surpassing their goal of $55,000.
With so many people in attendance the past few years Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park, where the event was held, rented out the largest room to Schmelzer to accommodate everyone who came out to help raise money or shave their heads to find a cure.
Not only did the event have a larger room this year but it was also much more family friendly. With a kids section in the back, young supporters were able to make crafts and cards which are to be delivered to children suffering their cancer.
For anyone not familiar with St. Baldrick’s the idea for the foundation started back in 1999 when three friends were trying to come up with a way to give back. Twenty years later the foundation is still going strong, spanning throughout all 50 states and 28 countries worldwide. The event has hosted 4,200 events, shaved 190,500 heads, and since 2000 has raised over $118 million in donations.
Over 13 years ago, Chris Schmelzer was watching the news when he saw a story about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and decided that he was going to shave his head. After voicing the idea to his wife, Jennifer Schmelzer, the two agreed to start their own event, raising $8,700 their first year.
Since then the Schmelzer’s yearly fundraiser has only grown. This year the Alan B. Shepard Jazz Band kicked off the event with a performance onstage before the first round of people “braved the shave.” Between shaving, the TNT Extreme Dance group took the stage as well, providing entertainment.
Shavee and cancer survivor Holly Jo Johnson earned the title of Knight Commander by participating to shave her head for the tenth year in a row. This year Johnson brought in more than $20,000 alone, making her decade total over $160,000.
Shavees can either participate independently or with a team of friends and family who also want to go bald for a great cause. Remembering Emily is a team that has been raising money together in honor of Emily Beazley, a young girl who unfortunately lost her fight back in 2015. This year the team raised $14,790 in Emily’s memory.
Cancer Sucks is another notable team that’s been trying to make a difference for many years now. Started in 2013 in memory of Colt Maddox, younger brother Andrew Maddox hopes to raise enough money so no family has to go through what his did. Cancer Sucks raised almost $3,000 this year and included Shepard sophomore Jacob Jeeninga and Astro alum RJ Dusek.
Fundraising and donations continued throughout the event. Raffles, 50/50, and merchandise were all on display to raise a few extra dollars for kids and families still fighting. Raffles included gift cards, hotel stays, and even a signed hockey stick by the Blackhawks, bringing in a record setting $5,100.
With 97 heads shaved and a 13 year total of $628,000, the Schmelzer’s are doing all they can to put an end to childhood cancer.
“Taking the stage and looking out to see the room filled almost to capacity was amazing,” stated Schmelzer. “Knowing that so many people could come together in one room with the common purpose of fighting this terrible disease was very humbling.”