Schools, parishes raise $180,000 for cancer research

Maura Austin, a third-grader at Our Lady of Lourdes School, held up her shorn locks at her school's St. Baldrick event March 1. Austin raised more than $1146 for the childhood cancer research foundation.

Maura Austin, a third-grader at Our Lady of Lourdes School, held up her shorn locks at her school’s St. Baldrick event March 1. Austin raised $1,146 for the childhood cancer research foundation. (Photo Special to The Record)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

A half dozen schools and parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville collected more than $180,000 for the St. Baldrick Foundation, a charity that raises funds for pediatric cancer research.

Volunteers, who are sponsored by family and friends, shave their heads or donate hair to Locks of Love to show support for children going through cancer treatment.

Tricia Fike, the chairperson of the St. Baldrick event at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, said the St. Baldrick Foundation is a charity that is easy for people to rally behind.

“The thing is only 4 percent of federal cancer research funding goes toward the types (of cancer) kids get,” Fike said in a phone interview last week. “We have a great community of people who ask to be a part of it. I think anybody with a kid could relate to a child with cancer.”

Our Lady of Lourdes raised more than $100,000 at their March 1 event, with the help of several schools and businesses. One hundred fifty people shaved or cut their hair, including the pastor, Father Scott Wimsatt. The parish raised $55,000 last year.

“Our original goal was $60,000 but we raised it to $75,000 because Father Scott Wimsatt agreed to shave his head,” Fike said.

In order to raise more money for cancer research, Fike invited teams from other schools and parishes to participate in the event at Our Lady of Lourdes.

Teams from Sacred Heart Model School, St. Leonard, St. Margaret Mary and Collegiate schools joined the event.

“We also invited different companies in the community to be sponsors,”  she added. Two restaurants — Salsarita’s and Molly Malones in St. Matthews — also held fundraising nights where a portion of the profits were donated to the event.

Fike said the parish has been extremely supportive because several of its families have experienced childhood cancer firsthand.

“We have several kids who have been struck by cancer. It’s a no brainer to want to help with this cause,” she said. “It’s a very visual thing and something any kid can do.”

The team with the highest total at the Our Lady of Lourdes event was Sacred Heart Model School. The school raised $14,495.

The highest individual fundraiser was Michael McSweeney, whose 14-year-old son Patrick has leukemia. McSweeney raised $8,250. The McSweeneys attend St. Margaret Mary Church.

Last year, the St. Baldrick Foundation raised more than $34 million nationwide at events like those hosted in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Traci Shirk, a media manager for the St. Baldrick Foundation, said she sees an increasing number of schools and organizations in Louisville getting involved with the foundation each year.

“The fact that the city has multiple events and that it is raises as much as it does and continues to come back year after year shows the strong community support within Louisville,” Shirk said.

St. Albert the Great School has hosted a St. Baldrick fundraiser every year since 2003.

As of The Record’s deadline March 17, the school had collected $60,000, but more donations were expected.

“If we hit $70,000 this year that will put our grand total (for the last 11 years) at $800,000,” said Taylor Deibel, chairperson of the event.

Deibel said, as an organizer, she is moved to see all the former St. Albert students continue to participate year after year.

Kenny Williams, an alumnus of St. Albert the Great School and a senior at Holy Cross High School, hosted a St. Baldrick event at St. Lawrence Church.

Williams hosted the event as part of his senior project at Holy Cross. Five people participated and raised $300.

DeSales High School hosted their second St. Baldrick event March 11 and raised more than $18,000. Of that $18,000, $2,800 was raised by 10 students at St. Athanasius School. Sixty people shaved their heads at the event.

On March 15, St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., participated in a community-wide St. Baldrick event. The parish raised nearly $4,500. About 20 people shaved their heads, including St. James pastor Father Charles Walker.

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