Brookings, S.D. is hosting an event to help fight childhood cancer today, March 20, 2017 at the Brookings Fire Department East Station, 607 20th Avenue in Brookings. Head shaving will begin at 4:30 p.m.
Bismarck-Mandan and beyond sacrificed hair, money, time and talent Friday, March 10, to help fight kids’ cancer. As a result, more than 215 bald heads roam the community.
The 10th annual Brave the Shave flagship event was held March 10 at the Missouri Valley Family YMCA. Hair was flying fast and furious and kids and adults united to raise money for the Brave the Shave Family Fund, which supports local families dealing with a childhood cancer diagnosis and the Andrew McDonough Be Positive (B+) Foundation, which funds cutting-edge childhood cancer research. Gold hair, blue hair, short hair, long hair, to ultimately no hair, there was no shortage of spirit, spontaneity, and generosity.
“It’s unbelievable and so moving to see an entire community come together to support the common goal of fighting childhood cancer,” says Taner Ohlsen, Brave the Shave’s family representative. “The support from area businesses, organizations, and individuals is truly remarkable.”
Since Basin Electric brought Brave the Shave to the region in 2008, nearly 2,500 volunteers have shaved their heads and raised more than $2.5 million to help support area families and fund childhood cancer research.
Several honorees families were in attendance, and some even braved the shave. Twenty area children and five angel families were honored at this year’s event.
In addition to hair cutting and head shaving, this year’s flagship event included children’s crafts, online auction, face painting, balloon creations, and local mascots. Miss North Dakota International was also in attendance.
Donations for the campaign are still being accepted and tallied. Donate to this year’s campaign at bravetheshave.coop.
“Every year we try to beat the previous year’s total, and so far we’ve been fortunate to do that,” Ohlsen says. “We’re hoping to do it again this year, but regardless of the final total, we feel great about this year’s campaign and all the good that came out of it.”
Each participant has his or her own reason for shaving or cutting their hair. There is a teenage sister who is lopping her lovely long locks to support her brother who was recently diagnosed with cancer. A mom who is doing it so her head will match her daughter’s after she undergoes brain surgery next week. A mother honoring the memory of her forever five-year-old little boy who fought a good fight. And hundreds more who are just doing it because they want more than anything to ease the struggle of families who have a child with cancer. While the reasons are all a little different, they all share a common theme: they’re doing it for the kids.
Today is a big day in the Bismarck-Mandan community – it’s the day more than 200 bald heads will emerge from the Missouri Valley Family YMCA to signify that they stand with kids in our community and region who are battling cancer. So far, they’ve raised more than $220,000 and the number continues to rise.
In its 10th year, the Brave the Shave campaign is benefiting more than 65 families in the region dealing with a childhood cancer diagnosis through the Brave the Shave Family Fund. Honoree families have called the Family Fund, “amazing, guardian angels on earth, a miracle, a shelter during a storm, a ray of sunshine in a very rainy season, an umbrella when it’s pouring, and a best friend that understands when others simply can’t.” The campaign will also support pediatric cancer research through the Andrew McDonough Be Positive (B+) Foundation.
The event begins at 1:30 p.m. and will open with a special ceremony honoring the Brave the Brave the Shave honorees we fondly refer to as “super kids” who will receive VIP badges from area teens dressed as superheroes. WATCH LIVE: https://bravetheshave.coop/
In addition to the honoree entrance, the event will include comments by Joe McDonough, founder of the Andrew McDonough Be Positive (B+) Foundation, the research arm of this year’s campaign. B+ honors the life of Joe’s son, Andrew, who battled leukemia, septic shock, and complications of childhood cancer for 167 days before passing away at the age of 14. Andrew’s B+ blood type became his family’s and friends’ mantra throughout his fight against cancer – to “be positive.” Joe gave up his career to start this foundation, and he is deeply committed to the cause.
Some of the teams going bald at the event include:
Basin Electric – Bald by Design. Basin Electric brought Brave the Shave to the region 10 years ago and will feature a number of participants who have shaved for several years in a row.
Pansy’s Peeps, the event’s largest team with 42 members. Team members dyed their hair this week a rainbow of colors and designs prior to getting shaved.
Team Hearts Hope & Hair, a brother-sister team made up of 10-year-old Kenzie and 7-year-old Briton. Both have grown their hair so it can be donated and made into wigs for kids with cancer. Kenzie will shave and donate 18 inches of hair and Briton will shave and donate eight-and-a-half. This team raised the most money by the smallest team.
NISC has a team rallying around 5-year-old honoree Jadyn, who completed treatment in November and has chosen to shave at the event.
Nearly 40 participants, both adults and kids, will be shaving their heads to raise money to support local families dealing with childhood cancer and to help fund pediatric cancer research. The head-shaving will start at 2 p.m., and the event is open to the public.
Visit the event’s fundraising page at where you can view the participants, teams, or make a donation.
For the past four years, it has been a friendly rivalry, and while it still is, this year one of the brave honorees is one of their own.
Last March, shortly after the Brave the Shave events ended, Levi Gartner, the 1-year-old son of Bismarck firefighter Joe Gartner was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma. “The day we found out, our world just crashed down around us,” Joe says. “My wife and I had been very active with Brave the Shave and other charities, and we couldn’t help but ask, ‘Why us? Why does something like this have to happen to the people who help others?’”
After Levi’s diagnosis, the Gartners spent eight-and-a-half months straight in Minneapolis while Levi underwent treatment. During that time, Joe’s brothers and sisters at the fire department took his shifts so he could be with his family. “If I could make it home to take a shift, I would, but that wasn’t very often,” Joe says. “Without their help, I probably wouldn’t even have a job right now. I will never be able to thank them enough, and I will always be in debt to them for allowing me to be with my son while he was so sick and going through treatment.”
Today, Levi has completed chemotherapy and is currently in his third round of immunotherapy, a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer. Other than being fed through a feeding tube, Joe says Levi is a spunky, giggly 2-year-old boy who loves life.
Joe will be shaving his head at tonight’s Guns N’ Hoses event just as he has for the past several years, but says this year it means more than it ever has before. “When I first participated in the event five years ago, it was just about raising money to help others,” he says. “Today, it’s much more personal. Seeing my brothers and sisters and my law enforcement family come together to raise money not just for others, but for my son, touches my heart more than it ever has. It means a lot.”
Nearly 50 teams have been formed for the 2017 Brave the Shave campaign, and they’re all doing it for the same reason – for the kids and families impacted by childhood cancer. However, 14 of these teams are closer to the cause than the rest.
These 14 teams have been created to honor the children who are currently battling, who have come out of the battle cancer free, and who have become angels. Following are the 2017 Brave the Shave teams honoring Brave the Shave honorees:
All Jazzed Up honors 5-year-old Jazmine Anderson, who was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, which encompasses a set of distinct genetic disorders that causes tumors to grow along various types of nerves, as well as optic glioma brain tumors. Donate to All Jazzed Up.
Cooper’s Crew was created to honor Cooper Peterson, who is known to many as “Super Cooper.” Cooper is nearly 3 years old and was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis and optic gliomas at 11 months old. Donate to Cooper’s Crew.
Zakk’s Attack on Cancer was created for 11-year-old Zakkry Arenz, who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, the most common type of brain tumor in children, in January 2016. In December, Zakk and his family received the wonderful news that he is in remission. Donate to Zakk’s Attack on Cancer.
Chase’s Superhero Squad was created for 6-year-old Chase Jones, who, this past November, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia and made high risk because of the dangerous and rare Philadelphia chromosome, which affects how the cancer reacts to treatment. Read more about Chase and how his family banded together to support him in the post, “Shave, shave again,” and donate to Chase’s Superhero Squad.
For its first year ever, Basin Electric member cooperative KEM Electric, headquartered in Linton, is hosting its own head-shaving event to benefit the 2017 Brave the Shave campaign on Friday, March 10. During the event, six employees – nearly half of its staff – will be shaving their heads to raise money to benefit area families dealing with a childhood cancer diagnosis and to help fund pediatric cancer research.
“It’s a good thing to do – raise money to help these kids with cancer. If there is anything we can do to help make their day a little brighter or to make their lives a little easier, then we should do it,” says Lisa Rossow, KEM Electric’s data and communication analyst.
The team’s participants originally set their fundraising goal at $200, but they’ve already blown that amount out of the water. Donate to KEM Electric’s team by visiting its fundraising page.
When Brave the Shave family representative Taner Ohlsen saw an ambulance for sale while driving through Garrison, ND, it sparked an idea.
“I thought about the pink fire truck that drives around the area, giving hope to cancer fighters, especially women fighting breast cancer, and thought, how cool would it be to have a gold ambulance for kids fighting cancer to climb up in, push buttons, and play on?” he says. So he called the number on the for sale sign, and spoke to Sandra Nelson, board president of the Garrison-Max Ambulance District. After learning the price, he left the conversation intending to search for a sponsor to pay for it.
Sandra says she kept thinking about the conversation long after she hung up the phone. “I know it’s hard for a nonprofit to pay for something like this, but it’s also hard for a nonprofit to give it away, because it’s money that would be going back into the organization,” she says.
But she decided to bring the idea of donating the ambulance to the board at its monthly meeting, scheduled for the next day. “I didn’t even get it all out before everyone said, ‘yep, let’s do it,'” she says. “Everyone agreed that these kids needed this way more than we needed the money.” She says the board feels this is something that can give the kids a little hope, something they can call their own, and well worth donating.
The ambulance will be gold, the color that represents childhood cancer awareness, and feature cool, comic book-style pop art accents. The vehicle wrap was also generously donated thanks to United Printing of Bismarck. The ambulance is undergoing its transformation and will hopefully be completed by Brave the Shave’s flagship event in Bismarck, ND, on March 10.
Check out the video below of Sandra talking about the ambulance and what it means to donate it to Brave the Shave.