First of all, thank you for the many birthday wishes yesterday. I had a lovely day with my family, including lunch and a little shopping with my favorite partner in crime (my mom) sandwiched between breakfast with homemade gifts from my sweet boys and I’m-not-cooking-tonight Marotta’s delivered by my handsome husband for dinner.

And now onto today’s activities. St. Baldrick’s has recently launched a new initiative called BaseBald where college or high school baseball teams shave their heads at school-specific events.  Last week, I got an email from the guy at St. Baldrick’s who spearheaded this idea (a cancer survivor himself) inviting me and the boys to the first official Basebald event at Bluffton University “in Ohio.” Well, I’d never even heard of Bluffton before so I quickly looked it up on my phone and it seemed to be somewhere around Columbus (a quick two hour drive from home), so, after double checking to make sure our various schedules were clear (or clear enough, except for that little thing called school), I happily accepted.  Little did I know, until Monday’s visit to MapQuest, that this small Ohio college was a full three hours’ drive away!

But the boys were excited and I knew it would be special, so they played hooky for the day and we headed off first thing this morning through the cold pouring rain to Bluffton. Three hours later, we arrive amid sunny skies and a temperature nearing 70 degrees. (This winter has been scarily warm — I love it, but it is also completely bizarre … and perhaps worthy of another post). So here we are in the middle of Farmland, Ohio at this quaint college campus complete with a little stone bridge over a rushing creek that we crossed on our way to the Commons. We make our way to the cafeteria and, I gotta tell you, I think the entire campus is there, all eating lunch at the exact same time in the exact same room.

And the entire baseball team, including coaches, stepped up on that stage to shave their heads. Austin was invited to take over the buzzers and do some of the shaving himself, but he hid his face and refused, unlike his big brother who jumped up at the first chance and took over. So there was Braedan, all pretty eyes and smiling face under his huge St. Baldrick’s hat, wielding the buzzer and chatting into the microphone at the same time, cheerfully answering questions like, “Have you ever shaved anyone’s head before?” “No!” (poor brave ball player squirming away up there …).  Just look at this beautiful shot (which I’m sadly unable to copy). Austin was asked to shave again later in the hour but again refused, only to tell me once we were safe at home that he really wanted to and I need to “make” him do it the next time.

It was all very sweet and I think that seeing Austin there had a definite impact on the young men shaving.  I imagine that it was initially just another thing to do with their buddies — a group of guys hanging out, competing against each other, doing what their coach wanted them to do for no greater reason than that he wanted them to do it. But that hearing a tiny bit of Austin’s story and seeing him there in the flesh, looking so normal, looking like they may have looked fifteen years ago, made it all the more meaningful. Some of them hung around afterwards, shyly talking with me or proudly showing off the soft serve ice cream machine to my eager boys. Braedan was especially wowed by the ready availability of any food you could ever want and repeatedly told Mark at dinner how everything was “free.”

The team raised more than $7,500 in less than a month, more dollars than the number of students and residents of Bluffton combined. And, as it said on the St. Baldrick’s site, how many communities can claim that?