Fourteen members of the crowd gathered in the Lamberton Great Room on April 19 walked in with heads full of hair—and walked out with none.
These so-called “shavees” pledged to go bald to raise funds for St. Baldrick’s, a non-profit organization that provides financial support for childhood cancer research. The Lehigh event, organized by Theta Chi under the leadership of Joe Guzikowski ’20, raised more than $13,000. Two hairdressers—Alison Leaver from Eskandalo in South Bethlehem and Lehigh student Francesca Brown ’21—volunteered their services and 14 brave souls gave up their hair for a good cause.
Guzikowski, whose family has been impacted by cancer, started planning for the event with “the humble goal of $5,000 and seven shavees.” He had participated in a St. Baldrick’s event years ago and wanted to create something new on campus.
“[Back in January] I was thinking to myself, ‘I’m a sophomore at Lehigh. What am I really doing here?’ … I wasn’t very involved on campus. I thought, ‘How can I do something to create something new and kind of break the status quo?’ I introduced St. Baldrick’s to my chapter, got a solid group of guys to help me out, and then three months later we brought it to fruition, and it was really cool.”
Vin Albanese ’20, Theta Chi president, agrees.
“I thought it was really great,” he says. “As a fraternity we were trying to make that extra push to improve our philanthropy and community service … and we wanted to make that push in terms of entering the community and doing a good job and hopefully trying to connect with some more people and do some better service events. So when Joe brought this, up it was kind of perfect.”
Theta Chi would like to hold another St. Baldrick’s an annual event in the future, Albanese says.
“I think that this was the best philanthropy event that we’ve ever done, and it’s just all credit to Joe, really. Everyone was super proud of it.”
Caralyn Roeper ’21 ran into Guzikowski at Saxby’s one day, and he mentioned the event. Roeper thought it sounded interesting.
“I thought it was a really good cause,” says Roeper, who would become the event’s top fundraiser, raising nearly $5,000.
“... I felt like I needed a change in my life or something to show other people that small things that they do can make a larger impact, and it doesn’t have to be like giving up their time or necessarily giving up their money. They can just give a little bit of themselves to something pretty cool and help people out. At the end of the day, it was just hair,” she says.
In a speech at the St. Baldrick’s event, Roeper shared that her father battled cancer last year and is currently in remission.
“I asked if everyone could raise their hands if some aspect of their life has been affected by cancer, and every single person in the room raised a hand,” she says. “So just that [was impactful], people realizing that this is something that affects everyone, one way or another. … This is something that's really important to me. I’ve had a lot of people in my life who I’ve lost or watched suffer because of cancer. It wasn’t, ‘Oh, look at me, I’m so nice, shaving my head.’ It wasn’t about that. It was about how much one person can make an impact, and how I can show people how much impact one person can make, just by doing something super insignificant.”
As for shaving her head, Roeper says she likes the result—and its larger meaning.
“It doesn’t change anything about who I am. The people who love me and care about me don’t care at all. They think it’s awesome. … Everyone’s walking around, so concerned about keeping up their image, but why? Why do we make that image something that’s exterior, something about your appearance, rather than what you have inside of you? I shaved my head. This wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about looking cool or making people realize that I’m really compassionate or whatever. This was about helping other people.”
Photos by Christa Neu