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 9 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.
With just 3 months until the Big Shave, organisers are encouraging supporters to forego their Summer haircuts and sign up to shave their heads and fund further research grants for all types of childhood cancer research. 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 14 year old Hannah Meeson, who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer, in 2012.
When the crowd gathers in Cricket Square on 30 September they will celebrate and honour Cayman’s childhood cancer heroes, Matthew Chong Ping (18), Tayden Grant (15) Hannah Meeson (14), Charli Foster (14), Allie Capasso (14), Beau Shields (12), Ava Paige Rico (12), Annabelle Reading (11), Saylor Sperandeo (11) and Mimi Ebanks (9) and will also remember the Cayman children who have died from childhood cancer. Several other children in Cayman have been diagnosed with cancer since the last in person Big Shave and organisers wish to encourage those families to join the event to honour and celebrate Cayman’s childhood cancer survivors.
Local business owner Woody Foster has shaved every September since 2013 to raise funds and awareness and to honour his daughter, Charli, who is a leukemia survivor.
“This is hands down my favourite event of the year. I’m delighted it’s back after two years of virtual shaving, and I’m looking forward to raising much needed funds for St Baldrick’s. As a parent with a child with cancer there are moments that you’re overwhelmed by the helplessness and despair and your desperate need to do something, anything, to help find a cure. Each year I am truly humbled by the way our community takes this cause to their hearts; from children donating pocket money to schools hosting their own shave events, bake sales, coin drives and dress down days throughout September, together Cayman’s community has made a phenomenal difference. One person might make an impact but a whole community working together can create change and that’s exactly what has happened in Cayman over the past decade,” explained Mr. Foster.
Organisers recognize that shaving isn’t for everyone but are encouraging the entire community to get involved throughout Childhood Cancer Awareness month by hosting bake sales, dress down days at work or school, sponsoring a colleague or friend shaving at The Big Shave and by attending the event on 30th September.