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Students wear bald caps to raise awareness in second-annual cancer fundraiser

By Hannah Stewart

Section: News

October 23, 2015

Brandeis hosted its second Be Bold, Be Bald cancer fundraiser on Friday, Oct. 16. Be Bold, Be Bald is the main fall semester fundraiser for cancer, which complements the Relay for Life fundraiser in the spring. Last year, Brandeis’ Be Bold, Be Bald pilot program raised about $4,000. This year, Be Bold, Be Bald raised over $5,000 and donated those funds to several different organizations, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

James Machado ’16, brought Be Bold, Be Bald to Brandeis last year after spending the previous summer working with Small Army for a Cause, a Boston advertising agency where Be Bold, Be Bald began in 2009 when the creative director, Mike Connell, died from cancer.

“Through Small Army for a Cause, they created the Be Bold, Be Bald cancer fundraiser, which takes place in the third week of October each year,” said Machado. This year, Small Army for a Cause raised $1 million nationally.

Machado continued to develop Be Bold, Be Bald for Brandeis when he participated in the JBS marketing program with Prof. Grace Zimmerman (IBS/HS). During the first month of the program, he took two graduate-level courses, and “the second month, we divided into three or four groups, and my group was Be Bold, Be Bald. We were marketing consultants for them. Our goal was to help them expand, specifically into schools.”

The athletic community and fraternities Zeta Beta Tau and Phi Kappa Psi were significant partners in the fundraiser. The Brandeis baseball, softball, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s swimming teams all donated money to foundations such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Other organizations that received donations include the Jimmy Fund, Livestrong and UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation.

The women’s soccer team donated their funds to Massachusetts General Hospital in honor of Belle Swersey, a four-year-old from Newton, MA. Swersey has a rare kind of pediatric cancer called metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma, which is a cancer of the cells that would normally become skeletal muscle. The team “adopted” Swersey and made her an honorary team member. Before their game on Friday, Oct 16, the team and their opponents from the University of Chicago all wore bald caps out on to the field in honor of Swersey. By the end of the event, the team surpassed their goal and raised $1,600.

To participate in the fundraiser, participants sign up at BeBoldBeBald.org and choose which foundation will receive their donations. Then, participants gather patrons who will sponsor them to either shave their head or wear a bald cap for the day. This past year, close to 400 people at Brandeis purchased bald caps.

Machado, who has had two benign tumors, one in his elbow, and the other in his eardrum, found meaning in this program because “you got to give back and unite the community around a cause, which is something that I enjoyed doing.”

Machado will graduate from Brandeis, either at the end of this semester and move on to the BA/MA program at Brandeis IBS, or after the spring semester, but Be Bold, Be Bald will continue. This past spring, Be Bold, Be Bald was recognized by the Senate as a club, and they plan on applying to become a chartered club later this semester. Afterward, the club plans to organize a live band performance in either Chum’s or in the Stein and connect that to cancer awareness.

Machado worked with the Athletics Administration, the Department of Community Service and its director Lucas Malo, and Robbie Steinberg ’13 of Student Activities to organize the fundraiser.

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