About 100 Bradley students cut all their hair off Wednesday afternoon for the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity's first-ever St. Baldrick's Day fundraiser. The event raised more than $6,000 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a national childhood cancer organization.
Bradley University freshman Danielle Creamer leaned back as Samantha Mehew clutched a bundle of her long, black hair and squeezed down on a pair of scissors.
"I'm turning bald," Creamer, 19, said as a pile of hair fell to the ground.
She won't be the only bald student walking around campus.
About 100 students cut all their hair off Wednesday afternoon for the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity's first-ever St. Baldrick's Day fundraiser. The event raised more than $6,000 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a national childhood cancer organization.
A crowd of students huddled around Creamer in the campus quad and counted down the final moments until she lost her hair.
"You have so much hair," Mehew, 19, told her.
Just a few minutes later, Creamer stood on top a pile of hair and felt her shiny head.
"I'm haven't seen it in the mirror yet, so I'm a little nervous," she said.
Creamer wanted to support the children undergoing cancer treatment she sees regularly as a volunteer at Children's Hospital of Illinois at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.
"I figure it's the least I can do to make them feel normal and know that someone truly cares about what they're going through," she said.
Many of the children Creamer encounters don't have visitors,
and she hopes seeing others like them will boost their spirits.
After she graduates, Creamer plans to continue working in hospitals with children.
Ardon Lukasiewicz, who coordinated the event, said the amount of money raised exceeded his expectations.
"We thought we could get a lot of money in an extremely radical and creative way for childhood cancer," he said.
Each student was sponsored by online donations. The not-for-profit St. Baldrick's Foundation will use the money to fund cancer research and fellowships for new doctors.
Lukasiewicz said the fraternity plans to hold the fundraiser again next year.
Like most of the students, Creamer was excited to go bald.
"I'm going to just be able to roll out of bed and not worry about my hair," she said.
And she wasn't alone.
Jeff Hohlfeldt, 22, never had his hair completely shaved off before. He wondered if any of his friends would recognize him without any hair.
"That's what these kids go through each day," he said.
Many students participated to support friends or family members fighting cancer.
Dimitri Almasi, 20, has spent the last few years visiting his grandmother in the hospital while she undergoes cancer treatment. The Bradley sophomore spent the afternoon setting up for the event before getting his head shaved to show his support.
"She'll feel better knowing that we're going through this, too," he said.
Mike Maciag can be reached at (309) 686-3251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.