Barbara’s Friends, the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida’s cancer fund, is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. To help honor the occasion, local leaders are “braving the shave” for the fund’s Clips for Cancer initiative, which invites childhood cancer survivors to shave their heads through the end of September.
In addition to raising money for the fund, Clips for Cancer raises awareness about the challenges of childhood cancer, including going bald, a frequent side-effect of cancer treatments. Proceeds from the initiative will provide equipment, staffing, and services to support lifesaving cancer care for children at Golisano Children’s Hospital.
On September 18, Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO of Lee Health, had his head shaved by Caliah Russell, who 10 years ago at age 3 was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Caliah recently celebrate her thirteenth birthday and dreams of one day being a Disney Imagineer.
“I am shaving my head because I want to show our children, the ones who are fighting for their lives, that they are not alone, we are here with them and we want to do this for them,” said Antonucci. “We’re here to take care of the community regardless of ability to pay. I am proud to join other leaders as well as the generous donors to Barbara’s Friends to encourage our young heroes.”
To show their support of Antonucci, The John E. & Aliese Price Foundation issued a $25,000 challenge grant to the community, pledging to match donations raised by Antonucci up to $25,000. Right before Antonucci’s shave, Nancy and Randy Howell called to donate $20,000 towards the challenge. Nancy Howell is the sister of Barbara Haskell, the namesake of Barbara’s Friends and daughter of Frank Haskell, founder of the pediatric cancer fund. “We know how important these funds are and applauded the community support and challenges,” said Howell.
In addition, Dr. Thomas Presbrey and Florida Radiology Consultants donated $40,000 to Clips for Cancer to encourage Lee Health leaders to have their heads shaved. Presbrey, president of Florida Radiology Consultants, joined them by having his head shaved on Sept. 18 by Ashton Hoiles. Hoiles was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at just 3 years old. Today, he is an active 11-year-old boy who loves dirt bike racing and giving back to the hospital that helped save his life.
To raise awareness and drive philanthropic support, Shavees (the participants who agree to be shaved) are inviting the Southwest Florida community to watch them in these moments of empowerment live every Friday in September on Lee Health Foundation’s Facebook and show their support by donating to Barbara’s Friends – Golisano Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund at BarbarasFriends.org/ClipsForCancer. Each Shavee has a personal goal of raising $2,500 or more to support kids with cancer and the pediatric hematology and oncology program.
To learn more and donate, visit BarbarasFriends.org/ClipsForCancer