This article was originally published by The Mennonite

50 athletes shave heads to support cancer victims

Bluffton (Ohio) University baseball players are in various stages of baldness Feb. 25 as stylists from The Curling Iron, a Bluffton salon, shave their heads—part of the team’s effort to support childhood cancer victims.

Chase Jones’ life has become his life’s work.

“What I’ve learned, looking back, is I shouldn’t be here,” said Jones, who was diagnosed with Stage IV brain cancer as a freshman at the University of North Carolina in 2006. “The sole reason I’m here is because somebody gave back.”

That’s what Jones was at Bluffton University to witness firsthand on Feb. 25 as founder and CEO of the Vs. Cancer Foundation, which is dedicated to combating childhood cancer.

Bluffton’s baseball team has partnered with the nonprofit organization for the second straight year to raise money for pediatric cancer research and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

And on Feb. 25, as this year’s total approached $7,000, about 50 Bluffton players and coaches again had their heads shaved in support of cancer victims before their season-opening, spring-break trip to Florida.

“What we’re doing today is going to help that next child,” Jones said.

Half of the proceeds will support research nationally, while the other half will directly aid the Columbus hospital. Bluffton baseball has now raised more than $36,000 in four years of fighting childhood cancer overall.

Jones, who has been cancer free for eight years, first saw the power of the cause when his North Carolina teammates helped raise roughly $5,000 and shaved their heads in his honor following his diagnosis.

Since he founded Vs. Cancer just over two years ago, the foundation has raised roughly $1.6 million—from youth leagues, high school and professional, as well as college, teams—and contributed to 50 children’s hospitals, he said.

After his alma mater, Bluffton’s was the first college baseball team to join the effort to help children with cancer, said Jones, adding that he “instantly bonded” with Beavers’ Coach James Grandey. “This year, I tried to make it a priority” to come to campus for the Feb. 25 event.

“You guys prove that this works,” he told the noon-hour crowd in Bluffton’s Marbeck Center, where stylists from The Curling Iron in Bluffton did the head-shaving honors.

Among the players on the business end of the electric clippers was Blake Fox, the team’s top fundraiser with $665, collected mostly from family and via an email appeal to members of his hometown church, Emmaus Road Mennonite Fellowship in Berne, Ind.

“I think it’s really cool,” said Fox about the effort against pediatric cancer, which is currently impacting two children he knows of. “Coach Grandey has a great thing going, and I think it’s just going to grow.”

Baseball players weren’t the only campus participants, though.

Among the others were Dr. Darryl Nester, a professor of mathematics and Bluffton’s faculty athletics representative, who also showed his support via a shave last year; senior Kerry Bush, who didn’t go for the close-cropped look but raised money and donated about 17 inches of cut hair to Westlake, Ohio-based Wigs for Kids; and three female employees—including a breast cancer survivor—of Sodexo, the company that operates campus dining services.

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