Participants gathered at the Alaska Airlines Center for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraising event on Sunday to raise money that will be used to help in the fight against childhood cancers.
Organizer Patrick Barnes said the event was previously held inside Accents of Style hair salon, but interest has grown so much that they needed a bigger venue this year. St. Baldrick’s has contributed more than $50,000 to the pediatric cancer unit at Providence Alaska Medical Center, the only children’s cancer unit in the state of Alaska.
“We’re standing next to ‘em and we’re fighting the fight with them any way that we can,” Barnes said.
The UAA Seawolves hockey team paired up with Anchorage Fire Department to help organize the event.
“We’re all in as a team,” said UAA head men’s hockey coach Matt Thomas, whose team has raised thousands of dollars. “If I and our team can brighten a kid’s day by showing them they’re not alone in the fight, by giving them something to take their mind off it, we will do what we can to make that happen.”
The foundation, which began as a single St. Patrick’s Day event, has raked in more than $100 million since its inception in 1999. It is the largest volunteer-run fundraiser in the world, with 100 percent of the proceeds raised going toward pediatric cancer research.
“It really is a wonderful foundation,” said Thomas’ wife, Andrea. “I just love being able to support it, and be a part of it all these years.”
Two-time participant, Missy Oakley was one of the first people to arrive to Sunday’s event. She said shaving her head is a small price to pay for making a childhood cancer patient’s day a little bit better.
“It’s all for the kids,” she said. “St. Baldrick’s does a heck of a job with the research, coming up with cures and treatments.”
Though she has not been diagnosed, Oakley’s parents and grandfather, she said, all developed cancer later in life.
For 11-year-old Carson Nakoa, it’s continuing a tradition he started seven years ago. He became a Knight of the Bald Table on Sunday for all his years of dedication.
“When I was four, one of my mom’s patients had cancer and I did it in honor of him,” Nakoa said. “He passed away a couple weeks after that and the last couple years I did it in his memory.”
Nakoa’s mother Ronda, who works as a pediatric oncologist at Providence said her son has had a big heart from an early age.
“Makes me feel really good, makes me feel like I did a good job as a parent,” Nakoa said. “He’s been around it since he was a little boy cause that’s what I do, I take care of all these little brave souls who fight cancer every day.”
While their heads may feel a little cooler, participants say the warmth in the message more than makes up for a missing mop.