NYC college students shaving heads to fight cancer

Jets running back Chris Johnson talks to reporters during training camp in Cortland on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.
Jets running back Chris Johnson talks to reporters during training camp in Cortland on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty Images

College students are getting buzzed — literally, and for a good cause.

New York’s Kappa Sigma Fraternity and Wahl Clipper are challenging local college students to shave their heads for the “Get Buzzed” campaign event on March 14, supporting childhood cancer research.

Gathering at 200 Fifth Restaurant & Sports Bar in Park Slope, participants will lose their locks and help raise money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the world’s largest private funder of pediatric cancer research. Approximately 50 people are expected to shave their heads, while over 150 community members will watch and cheer them on.

The idea behind St. Baldrick’s began in 2000, when three men in a New York City pub decided to shave their heads to raise funds for kids with cancer. As the head-shaving campaign quickly spread across the nation, St. Baldrick’s was established as an independent foundation in 2005 and has since received more than $100 million in research funds.

Wahl, which makes grooming products, has sponsored the campaign for several years, initially donating its clippers then expanding its support on a national level by organizing head-shaving events in major cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Steve Yde, the director of marketing for Wahl, says the company hopes to draw in as many college students and young New Yorkers as possible.

“We want the humor of Get Buzzed to appeal to Gen Y, and we’ve also been trying to do that through social media,” Yde said. “We want to show the younger generation that we’re not only raising money, but we’re showing solidarity with cancer patients and survivors.”

Yde not only hopes to welcome new faces, but also bring back long-time supporters of the cause.

Kappa Sigma’s team captain Danny Ryan, 35, has braved the shave for nine consecutive years. For Ryan, the annual buzz cut is a reminder of how he and his two college friends encouraged their fraternity to join the cause. This year, Ryan’s team hopes to surpass $150,000, an accumulation of funds raised since starting out.

“Whether it has been children or adults, a lot of us have lost family and friends to cancer,” said Ryan, whose father is a cancer survivor. “And in supporting St. Baldrick’s, you know that the money is going towards research that children and families really need.”

Heather Kash, a spokeswoman for St. Baldrick’s, believes efforts like Get Buzzed raise awareness for childhood cancer research.

“It’s an opportunity for college students to help children with cancer fulfill their future dreams; whether it is to go to college, travel the world, or to have a family of their own,” Kash said. “It is our mission to not only find cures for all childhood cancers, but to find better treatments so that all children can live long, healthy lives.”