Every September hundreds of supporters come together in Cricket Square to unite as one voice against childhood cancer at The Hannah’s Heroes Big Shave. What started in 2013 as a small group of cancer parents with a mission to raise awareness and funds for research has become a crucial milestone event for the St Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research in the US. Fundraising in Cayman has generated over US $2.5 Million and resulted in the naming of 14 separate research grants at the most prestigious institutes across the US, including John Hopkins, Dana Farber and Duke University, where researchers are working on life changing treatments and cures funded by the St Baldricks Foundation, all named in honour of Hannah Meeson. In fact The Big Shave has made it into the Foundation’s top ten fundraisers every year since 2014 amidst hundreds of events around the world and is the Foundation’s most successful overseas fundraiser.
This year’s Big Shave will take place on Friday 30 September at The Wicket in Cricket Square.
“The efforts of the Cayman community have been entirely life changing for children and families facing a cancer diagnosis everywhere. Just 50 years ago all kids diagnosed with cancer died. Because of research today about 90% of kids with the most common types of cancer will live but for many other types, progress has been limited and for some there is still little hope for a cure. Currently all childhood cancers combined receive only 4% of US federal funding for cancer research so without vital research funded by organizations like St Baldrick’s, Hannah and children like her simply will not survive. All children deserve to grow up and realise their full potential and it’s something that most families take for granted, “says Mrs. Gaylene Meeson, founder of Hannah’s Heroes and mother of 15 year old Hannah Meeson, who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer, in 2012.
When the crowd gathers in Cricket Square this Friday they will celebrate and honour Cayman’s childhood cancer heroes Tayden Grant (14) Hannah Meeson (15), Charli Foster (14), Allie Capasso (14), Beau Shields(11), Ava Paige Rico (12), Annabelle Reading (11), Saylor Sperandeo (11) and Mimi Ebank (9), Martisah Sinclaire (9) and Jaliyah and Jaliyah Gauntlet (6) and will remember angels, Dimitrie Connor (forever 15), Caitlin Beverley (forever 8) and Albert Ebanks (forever 16) and Kai Parham who passed away on Sunday 25th September , age 22, after a five year battle with an incurable brain tumour.
Kai’s mother, Fiona MacFarlane will be joined by Kai’s family and friends on Friday evening who will take to the Big Shave stage in celebration of his life with a renewed determination to fund research and prevent more young lives being lost to childhood cancer.
Amongst those already signed up to brave the shave is seven-time shavee Eugene Nolan of the Tortuga Rum Cutters who has raised over $93,000 for Hannah’s Heroes.
“It’s an amazing and humbling event and such an important cause. As a parent, I thank God for my healthy daughter and the bright future she has ahead of her. I feel incredibly lucky we can make a difference to kids fighting cancer by doing something so simple. This event inspires everyone and demonstrates how a small community can pull together to make a huge difference and create a future where kids don’t die from cancer and can just be kids.”
Among those shaving Friday are teams from Maples & Balder, Dart, KPMG, the Cayman Islands Fire Service’s “FireBalds”, Cayman International School and Waystone. Cayman Prep and High School are also hosting a satellite shave event for students and staff and many schools and businesses are hosting dress down days, bake sales and collections to get behind the cause.
Friday’s event will take place at The Wicket in Cricket Square from 5pm and will feature a silent auction, a balloon prize raffle for adults and children as well as food and drinks specials from the Brasserie and of course The Big Shave.
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