School to be the pride of Shave for the Brave

Bonnie Belec
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Cowan Heights to host 10,000th shave Wednesday

The roar of the pride will be heard loud and clear Wednesday at Cowan Heights Elementary school in St. John’s as Shave for the Brave celebrates its 10,000th shave.

Nine-year-old Sophie McGrath gets her hair braided at the braiding station before she prepares to have her head shaved at the annual Shave for the Brave at the Avalon Mall on March 29. This was her first time participating, which she did in honour of her cousin Hayler Willar, who is battling leukemia. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Geoff Eaton, founder and executive director of Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC), said the organization is hyped about the event.

“Shave for the Brave is the fuel that has grown YACC to where it is today,” he told The Telegram Monday.

The two-time cancer survivor said the fundraiser, developed and administered by YACC, generates about 75 per cent of the organization’s revenue, but it’s not just about the money.

“Its’ a massive spirit, community builder for everyone involved and a huge educational opportunity for the schools to have their kids involved to make what is a very significant sacrifice — to shave their heads bald,” said Eaton.

“It’s a massive event for us on several levels. It’s not a walk around the block and because it is such a big sacrifice, it’s not only incredibly powerful for the shavers, but for family, friends and the school community,” he said.

The first shave was in 2006 and shave time has become associated with community posters sporting a huge lion with a thick mane and the words, “Shave for the Brave, the pride is calling.”

Eaton said 45 schools have hosted shaves this year and as the 10,000th shave draws near, so does the $3-million raised mark.

This is Cowan Heights fourth shave.

“It’s pretty exciting, a big milestone for us,” Eaton said.

The Shave for the Brave is the brainchild of Eaton and YACC and is based out of the St. John’s office. It is delivered across the country in varying levels and schools in Nova Scotia, Alberta and Ontario have patriciated in shaves over the years.

“We’re not done yet, “ Eaton said.

“It’s powerful to see these little girls and boys shaving their heads. Our message is about participation, community involvement and the level of recognition they are making a huge difference in someone’s life,” he said.

First under the name Real Time Cancer, Eaton started YACC in 2000 to advocate on young cancer patients’ behalf, and to build a community of survivors and patients both online and through conferences and retreats.

He said most of the funds are spent in this province as the national head office is in St. John’s, however no one is turned away from attending the conferences and retreats, which can be fully funded or partially funded by YACC depending on the individual’s situation.

bbelec@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Young Adult Cancer Canada, Real Time Cancer

Geographic location: Cowan Heights, Nova Scotia, Alberta Ontario

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  • Geoff Eaton
    April 17, 2014 - 10:04

    I am sincerely sorry for any confusion surrounding our organization's mission. All proceeds raised through the Shave for the Brave support Young Adult Cancer Canada. It is our mission to support young adults (aged 15-39 at time of diagnosis) who are dealing with cancer. The organization was formed after my first diagnosis of cancer at 22 years of age. I learned there was a massive lack of support for those affected in that age range. Indeed young adults are neglected across the cancer continuum. Additionally, we focus our support on young adults because their different stage of life creates different challenges, especially in the psycho-social realm. Research has shown that the number one desire of young adults dealing with cancer is to connect with another young adult who is dealing with cancer. We create web-based and face to face opportunities for young adults to connect and share their challenges around fertility, sexuality, anger, and depression, for example. We do make considerable effort to be transparent about who the funds raised from the Shave for the Brave support. Whenever possible we send a Young Adult Cancer Canada representative or a survivor to the Shaves to discuss our programs. We also encourage Head Hunters (Shave organizers) to discuss our organization and we give them the tools they need to accomplish this. We encourage anyone raising money for or giving money to any organization to make the effort to understand where their money is going. You can find out more about how the funds raised from Shave for the Brave support young adults by visiting http://www.youngadultcancer.ca/. As we fully believe in transparency we also have our Annual Report available on our site so anyone is able to understand how we spend the money raised (our latest report from 2012-13 will be available soon). I am sorry if you have trouble finding organizations to support your son, I know first hand how tough a cancer diagnosis can be for the patient and for their family. We are humbled by the annual sacrifice of Shavers, young and old, and feel strongly, especially for the younger Shavers, that their participation has several wins. Not only are they helping to change the lives of young adults dealing with cancer but they are putting in practice an incredibly important life lesson… that of helping others in need. Fortunately our community is full of examples where people, of all ages and abilities, give to others locally, nationally and internationally. Our charitable spirit is alive and well and the Shave for the Brave is one example that shows the next generation is both community-minded and willing to make big sacrifices to help others. We hope this addresses some of the concerns you have raised. If you still have questions or concerns please let me know (Geoff@youngadultcancer.ca or 709-579-7325) and I will do what I can to address those concerns with you. Always… Live life. Love life. Geoff

  • Sam Cheers
    April 15, 2014 - 21:51

    I never realized that nor did I ever think any different. I always see the young kids taking part in this event. Interesting. Wonder why this was never raised before...

  • Bal Loney
    April 15, 2014 - 12:40

    I admire the children that participate in this event and raise money for worthwhile cause. My son also participates but I would like to clarify 2 things stated in the article: 1. The article states that YACC 'advocate on young cancer patients’ behalf'.'. Let's define 'young' as being anyone over the age of 17. When I inquired last year regarding supports I was told my son wasn't old enough to qualify for YAAC programs. No child participating in the Shave for the Brave from Cowan Heights Elem will benefit from their efforts if they are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 17. Even after they reach the age of 17 they will not be able to take part in these programs, unless they relapse! 2. The article states 'funds are spent in this province as the national head office is in St. John’s, however no one is turned away from attending the conferences and retreats'. They may not be turned away, but the kids that raise the majority of the funds for YACC are not eligible to benefit from programs. Interesting to see how much of the money is spent on kids from this province and not on paid staff. Again, I have no issue with the kids supporting this organization, but we need to understand who can and can't benefit. It is funny how all their promo material feature kids that can't even benefit. Why am I writing this? To prevent other parents form being disappointed when going to YACC for support only to find out that your child is too young to qualify! Bal