WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - St. Paul’s Lutheran Church hosted a St. Baldricks Foundation head-shaving event to raise funds and awareness for lifesaving childhood cancer research Saturday.
The ‘Shave for Sean’ event began six years ago when Cole Fleming wanted to do something to honor his brother Sean, a pediatric cancer survivor. Sean Fleming was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in June 2011, at the age of three. Sean, now 10-years-old and showing no evidence of the disease, kicked off the event Saturday by shaving his head alongside his brother.
“It’s the sixth year of our Shave for Sean event. Shave for Sean was started by our oldest son Cole because he wanted to do something to honor his brother to fight childhood cancer. None of us had ever heard of St. Baldricks so that started the research and here we are six years later. St. Baldricks has told us we’ve raised mover $170,000 in the first five years,” said Sean’s dad Brian Fleming.
Nearly 40 volunteers were expected to go bald at the event. Sean’s father explained how going bald not only helps to raise money, but also to expand awareness for what pediatric cancer patients endure.
“It’s really cool that they’ll do it," Fleming said. "A lot of times people don’t realize the significance of what it means to shave but some of what we experienced with Sean is we would go into the grocery store and they would realize something was wrong with him. And people would literally move out of the way or avoid the isle he was in because they knew he wasn’t okay. So when you shave, especially for a woman, you get to experience what these kids experience. And for anybody to do that voluntarily is amazing.”
According to the St. Baldricks Foundation, one in five children diagnosed with cancer will not survive. St. Baldricks is the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, which is one of the reasons it is so important to the Fleming family.
“A lot of people think they’re just little cancers. Meaning there are adults and becuase they’re just little adults the cancers are the same. But there are actually 12 or so different types of childhood cancer, and then the sub-cancers from there are just endless. So they are not the same as adult cancers and therefore the research is so important because most of the research done in our country is done for adult cancers, not kids,” Fleming said.