Going bald for cancer at Ri Ra Irish Pub

Darby Shepherd has her head shaved at Ri Ra Irish Pub for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Credit: DK Howe

You might notice more bald employees than usual at Mandalay Bay this week. That’s because on Saturday, March 3, a number of employees of the hotel and the businesses in Mandalay Place, along with members of the general public, had their heads shaved in a fundraising event held at Ri Ra Irish Pub. Each person that had their locks sheared collected donations for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity that supports research for childhood cancers. Thania Santamaria, the first lady of the day to not just go bald, but to do it in front of an audience, raised $1,085.00.

On hand to help the professional hairdressers were performers from Fantasy at the Luxor. Al Mancini, local food critic and co-author of Eating Las Vegas, was also there to take his turn at the electric razor, taking a bit off the top of a young boy with a blood disease, Hussen, who has his head shaved every year.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation began in 2000 when reinsurance executives John Bender, Tim Kenny and Enda McDonnell turned their industry’s St. Patrick’s Day party into a head-shaving event for kids with cancer. They had planned to raise $17,000, but instead collected more than $104,000.

“The movement quickly grew into the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer research, and today the St. Baldrick’s Foundation funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government,” states the Foundation that has raised more than $117 million since their first event. “Since 2000, more than 189,660 volunteers—including over 17,200 women—have shaved in solidarity with children with cancer at events in dozens of countries and every U.S. state.”

One of the most impressive participants of the day was Darby Shepherd, a young woman with a long, thick head of hair. “These kids don’t have a choice, but I do. They need good hair. It’ll grow back,” said Shepherd, an employee of Shoe Obsession located in Mandalay Place. Shepherd was donating her tresses to Locks of Love, an organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children.

St. Baldrick’s events were also held on Saturday at Nine Fine Irishmen-New York New York Hotel & Casino and McMullan’s Irish Pub. Brian and Lynn McMullan hosted the first St. Baldrick’s event in Las Vegas in 2007 in memory of their daughter Kyra.

United States statistics from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation:

Childhood cancer kills more children than any other disease—more than AIDS, Asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and congenital anomalies combined.
One in five children diagnosed with cancer will not survive.
Two-thirds of childhood cancer patients will have long-lasting chronic conditions from their treatments.
International statistics from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation:

Worldwide, more than 160,000 children are diagnosed with childhood cancer each year.
A child is diagnosed with cancer every 3 1/2 minutes.

Source: DK Howe, examiner.com

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