LUBBOCK, TX (THE DAILY TOREDOR) - Nineteen Texas Tech Health Sciences Center students and one professor had their heads shaved Saturday at McGillicutty's Irish Pub in Lubbock to raise money for childhood cancer research.
Out of the 19 students who left the pub bald, only one was female.
"I'm a little nervous," Natalie Frieh said before taking a seat in one of the two chairs at the front of the pub to have her head shaved, "but at the same time it's a great cause, and it's definitely worth not having hair for a little while."
Frieh, a first year medical student from Salt Lake City, Utah, said her experience working with a disabled child with cancer motivated her to do what she could to assist in raising funds for childhood cancer research.
Frieh's boyfriend Ryan Breighner said she refused his offers to take her place in the barber's chair. The mechanical engineering graduate student said although he was apprehensive at first about his girlfriend becoming bald, he understood why she felt the need to go under the clippers.
"When she told me why she was doing it and what it was about, I accepted it pretty quick," he said. "I realized she was going to do it anyways, so I didn't really have a choice but to accept it."
After Frieh was shaved bald, Breighner said he was proud of her and the $1,300 she raised from family and friends. "I'm still kind of in awe of it all," he said. "I mean, really, it's a really beautiful thing."
Aimee Wendelsdorf, a first year medical student and president of the Tech chapter of the American Medical Association, said the event was held in support of St. Baldrick's Foundation. The foundation encourages volunteers to host events where participants collect pledges by promising to shave their heads. She said the foundation began in New York City eight years ago as a bet between friends and has grown to 27,000 shaved heads last year.
Wendelsdorf said the foundation collected more than $7 million for fellowships for young doctors last year. She said Tech was one of the medical schools where the money raised was given to support fellowships for cancer research. "The fact that we got some of that money locally should really help us grow this event," she said. "You can see the results right here."
Wendelsdorf said she set a $5,000 goal for the event, which was almost achieved before the event Saturday. After the success of the first shaving she was a part of, she said she envisioned an expansion of the event to the entire Tech community.
"Next year I'd like to get undergrads, athletes and visible members of student government to join us and help the event grow," she said. "It's a solidarity thing to the children who lose their hair, and it's a lot better than going door to door."
Mike Barry, a first year medical student, said his son Cody asked to help when he heard his father was getting his head shaved for cancer patients. He said Cody, who attends the Child Development Research Center at Tech, raised $324 with the help of his class by selling homemade ice cream outside the center. "It was fun," said Cody, who is 4, after being shaved along with his father. "We raised money for the sick kids in the hospital to pay for their doctors bills."
Tyler LeVick, a first year medical student from Levelland, said his experience as a survivor of childhood cancer contributed to his desire to attend medical school. He said after five years of chemotherapy, shaving his head to help children with cancer seemed easy. "It lets kids know we're thinking about them and that we care," he said. "Anything to make them feel like they're living a normal life is a big plus. Kids should not have to be going through this."
Although she was sure she would continue to support the event, Frieh said she did not know if she would continue shaving her own head. "I'll definitely be involved again," she said, "but I don't know in what capacity. I mean, we'll see if it's OK with bosses and people like that to have a bald girl working for them."
© Copyright 2009 Daily Toreador