Sunday, February 21, 2010

St. Baldrick's Day--Part 1

You know it's coming--that time of year when the boys in this house need a haircut so desperately because they grow their hair for about six months, paint it green, and then shave it all off to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

You're right--it is coming, and I'll be back in a day or so to beg for a handout, but first, I want you to meet someone:

This is Francis Feeney (along with the boys).

Francis is on the board of directors for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. He owns a home in the valley, which is actually how we indirectly became involved in St. Baldrick's. In a twisted way.

About five years ago, a local woman named Cindy, who works managing the community where Francis owns a home, decided to shave HER head for St. Baldrick's after hearing about it from Francis. Francis is BFFs with the guy who founded St. Baldrick's, Enda McDonnell, and they were planning their shaving for 2006 when Cindy jumped into the fray and offered to shave her head. They couldn't believe she wanted to do it, but she did, and the shaving event in our valley was born. Cindy organizes it every year. Our friend, Mark, who manages several of the homes in the community where Cindy works and Francis lives, knows the two of them and also shaves his head for St. Baldrick's. During March 2007, the second year for the event here in the valley, Mark told us about it and asked us to come. We did. We met Cindy. We fell in love with the concept behind St. Baldrick's.

And there you have our six degrees of separation from Francis Feeney. Got all that?

So Francis happened to be in town last week, and Cindy arranged the opportunity for all of the event volunteers and the honored kids to meet Francis.

I have to say that I was totally amazed by him and all that St. Baldrick's is doing for pediatric cancer research. First of all, I'm boggled by the fact that St. Baldrick's is just 10 years old, but has raised an astonishing $69 million.

One of the things Francis told us about was that in January, St. Baldrick's brought together 16 pediatric oncology researchers from all over the country to help prioritize where St. Baldrick's funding should be directed. Can you imagine? Getting 16 of the biggest names in pediatric cancer research to put aside their schedules, their egos, their own agendas, to advise a foundation that's only 10 years old? Amazing. This is one of the reasons, in my mind, pediatric cancer survival rates continue to rise.

Francis is this very quiet, unassuming man, who didn't even have children of his own when he got involved with St. Baldrick's. It was very cool to see him get down on one knee and talk to Finn and Nathan, another of our little local survivors, about how they were his heroes. His knowledge about the world of pediatric cancer is astounding, and it all comes from his St. Baldrick's involvement.

It was just a great evening and a great opportunity to meet one of the people who is a big part of St. Baldrick's, which remains very near and dear to our hearts.

I'll be back. . .get your credit cards ready. . .

1 comment:

Lucinda said...

Declan is getting so handsome! Finn's expression made me laugh...what a cutie!