AS English II teacher Katherine Keigher participated in the St. Baldrick’s Foundation event on April 2. St. Baldrick’s is a foundation that raises awareness for children’s cancer and holds a yearly event to spread awareness and raise money for cancer research. The foundation holds these events throughout the entire country and the participants help raise funds for research and shave their heads on the day of their event.
Keigher had been raising money for almost a year leading up to the day of her event at Hennessey’s Tavern in Seal Beach, California. In her event, Keigher was able to gain the third most amount of funds, a total of $3000, for the foundation.
Keigher stated, “I was really nervous going into the event. Not because I was afraid to shave my head, but they had a stage set up outside the restaurant and part of me knew that I was about to sit on that stage and a bunch of people were going to watch me get my head shaved!” At her event, Keigher was the first person out of 30 other participants to get her head shaved on the stage and she “had [her] family and friends cheering [her] on in the crowd. It was a really cool experience.”
Keigher was very inspired by the event because she found the purpose of it so moving. Childhood cancer, which at times feels so surreal and unimaginable, became graspable to Keigher because “many of the families that were there are personally affected by children’s cancer.”
A man sitting behind Keigher’s family while she was on stage, approached her to talk about the foundation after the event. Keigher said, “[the man] shook my hand and gave me a big hug. He thanked me and said that ‘we need more people like you’ and started to tell me that I was a hero. I told him that it wasn’t a big deal because it’s just hair.”
Keigher continued, “But then he stopped me and said, ‘no, I do this because I lost my daughter to cancer. She had leukemia and died when she was six. We need more people like you who are willing to do this and have that attitude.’” Keigher got “choked up talking to him” about his experience with cancer. The harshness of children’s cancer became real to Keigher in that moment and she felt more inspired than ever to keep supporting the foundation and those struggling with child suffering from cancer.
Keigher was very appreciative “to see that people who are affected by childhood cancer support St. Baldrick’s. To meet those people and to see that the organization has their support is really moving.” Keigher is so proud to have been a part of St. Baldrick’s because “it was a very unique and wonderful experience.”
Regarding her life after the event, Keigher explained, “I have felt a sense of freedom. I don’t have to do my hair anymore which is great, too! But I have gotten some really weird looks from people, which I expected, but I have also gotten some really awesome stories out of it.”
Keigher explained, “After the event, each participant gets “a button that says ‘Ask me why I’m bald.’ I wore the button at Disneyland, at the mall, and around campus and some people have gotten up the courage to ask me why I’m bald. They asked me because they had a story to share too. Most of the people I talked to said ‘thank you for contributing because [my] family member had cancer’ or that their friends did the event too.”
One day, Keigher was “out to lunch with a couple other teachers and a guy came up to [them] and was asking about the event. After [they] had been talking about the event for a while, he said, ‘I hope you don’t mind but I bought your guys’s lunch’ because he was so struck by it.”
Keigher is extremely proud to have been a part of the event and the movement towards finding a cure to children’s cancer. According to Keigher, the experience and the purpose of the event was worth it because of all of the stories and meaning she has gotten from it. Keigher believes “all the weird looks that [she has] gotten” are a small price to pay for everything she has learned and implemented in her life after serving the foundation.