Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Fraternity Shaves Heads, Fights Cancer

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Fraternity Shaves Heads, Fights Cancer

Article excerpt

TUSCALOOSA | William Overhultz was 8 years old when he learned his older sister had cancer.

"She was 14 at the time," the now 20-year-old University of Alabama junior said. "As a little brother, I had no idea what to do, how I could help."

Feelings of helplessness were overwhelming to the young boy, but as he watched his sister lose her hair as a result of treatment, he had an idea.

"I shaved my head. It was the only thing I could think of to show support," Overhultz said. "The only thing I knew I could actually do."

That one supportive act ignited something in Overhultz, and he has continued to shave his head every September in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

This year, he went bigger. As the Alpha Kappa Lambda philanthropy chairman, he pitched an idea to his fraternity brothers -- and they agreed.

On Saturday, more than a dozen volunteers, both members of the fraternity and the community, shaved their heads in an effort to raise money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a

California-based, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research.

As music played in the background, a small crowd gathered around two chairs positioned outside the fraternity house's front door. Two by two, the volunteers took a turn in the chair, waiting anxiously as the buzz of clippers got closer and closer.

"People are very attached to their hair, but once they start seeing people with their heads shaved, I'm hoping they'll come on board," said fraternity president David Dooley, a 21-year-old UA senior. "I'm doing it. I'm not sure how it's going to look, but it's for a good cause and hair grows back."

Some went for a buzz cut, while others shaved it all off. As each one finished, the small crowd cheered and whistled.

The head-shaving event is the foundation's signature fundraising event, with hundreds hosted around the world. This year alone, there have been 1,300 events that have raised more than $32 million, said Traci Shirk, the foundation's media and public relations specialist.

"These volunteers are making a bold statement by shaving their head, and they're showing solidarity with children fighting cancer who lose their hair during treatment," Shirk said. …

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