It’s been nine years since Phoebe Pruneda said goodbye to her brother after he lost his battle with cancer. In honor of him, she said goodbye to her hair that will soon be made into a wig for locks of love.
“I feel like I’ve kind of contributed to his legacy. I think he would have wanted me to do this since he’s passed and I know he’s with me right now just kind of smiling and loving my hair,” said Pruneda.
More than 100 people including several of Naperville’s public safety officers joined Pruneda by volunteering to have their heads shaved at the Chicago Marriott Naperville. Altogether the group raised $78,000 for pediatric cancer research.
Jody Jones serves as a firefighter and paramedic for the Naperville Fire Department. She is also the lead organizer for the Naperville Public Service St. Baldrick’s event.
“We’ve had several police officers and firefighters who’s own children have had cancer so it’s special to us; it’s very important to us that we help stop this because it’s taking our young children away from us and it’s not right for kids to go through all that bad stuff,” said Jones.
This is Pruneda’s first time shaving her entire head, but she has donated her hair to Locks of Love before.
“I wish cancer never existed. I want it to be gone and that’s why I did this. To raise money, raise awareness, and to get this eradicated,” said Pruneda, a sophomore at East Aurora High School.
The St. Baldrick’s fundraiser began in 2000. The various events around the nation have since raised more than $103 million to bring awareness to and fund research for cancers that affect infants, children, and young adults.
At Ballydoyle Irish Pub in Aurora, nearly 200 people went under the clippers collecting $123,573 for St. Jude’s Hospital.
Team Baldy Sours member, Rece Komorn, raised more money than any other participant at the event. He and his family’s involvement over the past five years has earned them a total of $50,000 to go toward the cause.
“It makes me feel good. Since I’m raising money for childhood cancer, it makes me feel good for all those kids who need that research,” she said.
Worldwide, a child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes.
“In the 1950’s most kids that had cancer would have died and right now that’s gotten a lot smaller because of things like this. The research, the funding for such an event and anything to do with kids like this, I mean, I’ve got two little daughters of my own, and anything to do with kids you’ve got to jump in,” said participant, Adam Parks.
The event relies on volunteers, many whom have lost someone special like Jennifer Nolan, who lost her son to liver cancer nearly a decade ago.
‘When you go through a loss like we’ve gone through there’s really nothing that you can do. You grieve. You hurt. But what gives you some comfort is knowing that perhaps you can make a difference for someone else so we feel very passionately that we need to keep the dollars coming in for research for other families so that perhaps their prognosis and their end result is different than ours,” said Nolan.
More children are lost to cancer in the U.S. than any other disease. Thanks to St. Baldrick’s Foundation money, child cancer patients in more than 215 hospitals throughout the United States are helped everyday.
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