Braving the shave: UNMH employees going bald to support kids with cancer
From her vantage point behind the counter of UNM Hospital’s Espresso Café, coffee barista Brittany Maestas says it’s impossible not to notice the pediatric patients who are battling cancer. Many have lost their hair during treatment.
“We have one Espresso Café location outside of the pediatrics clinic so we see them all the time,” said Maestas, who will show her support for these young and brave patients by "braving the shave" herself. She’s among more than 70 Albuquerque volunteers – including several of her fellow baristas – who are preparing to shave their heads Saturday as part of the 13th annual Albuquerque St. Baldrick’s Foundation Event to support the fight against childhood cancer.
The event will take place May 2 from noon to 3 p.m. on the outdoor plaza adjacent to UNM Children’s Hospital, 2211 Lomas Blvd. NE in Albuquerque.
Chase Parker, an assistant manager at the Espresso Café, has been growing his beard for close to a year.
“I actually was going to cut it in January, but then I heard about the event and it sounded like a good cause so I kept going,” he said. He liked the idea so much that he organized a team with Maestas and coffee barista Irving Ortiz.
Some 17 teams from around the city are working to raise $40,000 for cancer research.
“We’re actually looking for all sorts of volunteers,” said Ortiz, who normally crops his head every few weeks but has been growing his hair long to participate in the event. “There will be shaves, those doing the shaving and then general volunteers for the event.”
Worldwide, 175,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. And in the U.S., more children die of childhood cancer than any other disease.
The first St. Baldrick's event took place in 2001 as a challenge between three friends in New York City. It has since become the world's largest volunteer-driven fundraiser for childhood cancer research.
Maestas said she is looking forward to “the novelty of it all.”
She said she has never been bald before, “but if it can raise awareness for childhood cancer research and helps to make one stranger smile then it will be worth it.”
To volunteer, donate or learn more about this year's event, visit the St. Baldrick's Foundation website.