Balding for Dollars returned to Whistler for its 15th year on Sunday (March 12), raising thousands for pediatric cancer and leaving many Whistler locals with particularly cold heads.
The province-wide fundraiser invites anyone willing to shave their heads and collect fundraising pledges to participate. This year, the Whistler event saw 20 people leave with freshly shaved heads, including two women and five elementary school students.
“It’s grown phenomenally, not necessarily in participation but support from the community,” said organizer Dave Clark, who founded Whistler Friends, a community health and welfare society, along with his wife, Wendy. “It’s really woven itself into the fabric of the community’s philanthropy.”
Sunday’s event stuck with tradition, hosted by the GLC with music from the Hairfarmers and shaving services donated by the Blackcomb Barber Shoppe. This year’s installment raised over $22,590 for kids with cancer at BC Children’s Hospital, significantly surpassing their goal of $15,000 and bringing the total amount raised since 2002 to over $291,000.
“We expected it to be a one-off, originally. Ten guys, we’ll all shave our heads and we’ll each raise a 100 bucks, that’s 1,000 bucks and we’ll call it a day. In the first year, we raised $6,500 and said, ‘clearly there’s something here, so let’s do it again,” Clark said.“(Fifteen years ago) there were no cameras on smartphones, everybody had film you had to process. Not that it was the dark ages, but you think about how much it’s all changed and yet childhood cancers are still here,” he continued. “It’s just wrong… What we want to be able to do is provide opportunities for kids and researchers and the kids that are getting treated now.”
The money raised doesn’t just go towards funding pediatric cancer research, but augmenting the lives of children and families battling the disease, explained Clark and Christine Tulloch, Balding for Dollars administrator and childhood cancer survivor.
“What Balding for Dollars focuses on, more so than the actual treatment side of things, is creating family fun days, and financial support and really encouraging quality of life care for the families,” she said.
Some of the hair that’s shaved off during the event also goes towards making wigs for children with cancer.
“When I was going through treatments at BC Children’s Hospital, one of the things (Balding for Dollars) provided me with was a wig to go out in public,” she said. “That’s something where it’s not like I needed the wig to feel beautiful, but it gives you that sense of normalcy and privacy.”
Fumie Kashino was one local who took the plunge this year, saying goodbye to her well-past-waist-length hair and raising over $4,300 for the initiative.
“Three of my children are healthy and happy, I just want to appreciate it,” she explained.
“Don’t ask me (if I’m nervous),” she added with a laugh, prior to the shave. “Everyone says I’m going to be very, very cold.”
Meanwhile, Alex Laforest was another first-time shavee, joining his cousin and uncle in what has become somewhat of a family tradition following his uncle’s battle with cancer.
“It’s a really important thing for my family, to give kids a chance to be as lucky as we were, because he’s still with us today,” he said.
Laforest said living without his long hair — he hadn’t cut it in four years, nor trimmed his beard since October — would take some adjustment. “I feel a lot lighter and a lot colder already — I’m going to need to buy a good toque.”