Boldly Bald for the St. Baldrick's Cause

Students can expect see a few more shiny, bald heads in their classes after this year’s Brave the Shave.

Brave the Shave is an annual event at which students shave their heads to support pediatric cancer research. The event is hosted by S.M.I.L.E., a service organization that focuses on helping kids in the Austin Community, and will take place on April 5.

 “Specifically, we’re raising money for St. Baldrick’s, which is a charity that hosts a bunch of events like these internationally,” S.M.I.L.E. member and ‘shavee,’ one whose head will be shaved, Lexi Rogers said. “Then they allocate that money to researchers and hospitals so that they can update their technology and improve treatments today, and then the research aspect improves treatments tomorrow."

Rogers has known for years that she eventually wanted to participate in Brave the Shave.

“I think as soon as I heard about it last year, even before I started at UT, I thought it sounded like a cool opportunity to do something really proactive,” Rogers said. “I feel like with something like cancer, everyone knows it’s bad; that’s not something that people dispute. So, you hear that so much that I kind of feel like it can become white noise. For me, this was a way to stand up and do something about it, rather than just agreeing with everyone that it’s a bad thing.”

Shavees hope that shedding their hair will allow them to make huge financial contributions to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

“It’s a really good way to raise money, ‘cause you’re making this bold sacrifice and people are a lot more willing to listen with something like that,” Rogers said. “And we’re standing in solidarity with the kids who have lost their hair.”

Rogers is in the rarer position of being a female ‘shavee.’ A majority of people who participate in Brave the Shave are men. Fellow ‘shavee’ Volonda Jackson feels that in some ways it is a different experience for women.

“I get the idea that in the society that we live in girls have to have hair,” Jackson said, “with guys it’s more lenient.”

While family and friends have been very supportive of Rogers’ and Jackson’s decisions to shave their heads, reactions from strangers whom they meet when tabling for Brave the Shave can be mixed.

“A lot of people are just like ‘No, that’s not happening,’” Rogers said. “There are a lot of people who come up and tell us that they’re a survivor of cancer and how much this means to them because losing their hair was such a big deal. I think, despite all the negative reactions — or maybe because of all the negative reactions — it’s entirely worth it.”

Students can come to the UT tower from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 5 for games, food, a petting zoo and to see their fellow Longhorns “Go Bald for a Bold Cause.” 

“We just want a ton of people there supporting everyone who is getting their head shaved,” Rogers said. “Spreading word, especially right now, is a huge thing.”