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Pride gets a bad rap. You know, being one of the seven deadly sins and all. I don’t really get it (I’m not anti-lust either, but we don’t need to go there). I mean, I see how pride can be a negative, if you’re excessively proud without good reason, if you’re proud of the wrong things (your looks, your wealth, your power). But I also see pride as an appropriate reward for doing what’s right and as a motivator to do what’s right again.

Those kids — and adults — who shaved their heads last week were proud of themselves. Deservedly so. They should feel pride; they earned it. Their pride will be one of the reasons they come back and do this again next year. Or it will spur them on to take other forms of positive action in the world.

I felt proud when Braedan told me I “do great things.” It didn’t make me want to sit back and rest on my laurels; it made me want to do more great things, if for no other reason than to show my children the impact they can have on the world.

Pride is beautiful too; especially when it shines innocently on the face of a child who has just discovered an empowered sense of self or on a parent who has watched their baby do something big and wonderful.  Just look at these:

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Here’s another boy who should be mighty proud of himself. Spencer signed up a mere ten days before the event and managed to raise $1,180 without a single donation over $100. Fifty-three different people contributed on his head. Fifty-three! What an incredible show of support that is. (And what a lot of Thank You notes he has to write!)


And then there’s this guy, probably the proudest of the bunch. And with good reason. In the four years that Braedan has shaved his head in solidarity with his brother, he has raised an incredibly impressive $13,153 for the St Baldrick’s Foundation. Ponder that for a moment. $13,153, . . . from a child. No wonder he looks like this:

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Even the smallest among us can feel pride. One of my favorite St. Baldrick’s moments this year happened two days after the event, when I received a surprising text from my sister-in-law. My nephew Hill, who was still two on Sunday but has since turned three, announced at the dinner table Tuesday night that he wanted to shave his head too, like his big brother and cousins. Up went the family, straight to the bathroom for the clippers, and what emerged is our youngest-ever (and plenty proud) shavee:

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And here’s another thing to be proud of. For every single person who shaved their head or every single person who donated a few bucks, this is for you:


And moments like this:


So hold you heads high and be proud. You deserve it.

First of all, we are pretty set for St. Baldrick’s.  I have three fabulous Registrars — somehow that job was a lot more appealing to people than the Treasurer position. Mark has agreed to serve as Lead Treasurer and I think I have a back-up, but will gladly accept more help in that department.  I need to have my letter to schools approved by St. Baldrick’s and I will start emailing them out next week, so please let me know if you cam bring materials to your child’s school and drum up some interest. And of course, we now need shavees and donations.  Team Braedan is here and Team Austin here.  The sooner people sign up, the more money you’ll raise.

Shifting gears (something I do at least ten times a day): A repost from last January, as I was preparing for my first Writer’s Digest Conference, and always a good reminder:

Packing Perspective

Alright, let’s see if I’m ready.

Cape, tights, superpowers? Check. (Thank you, Chris, for reminding me to pack those.)

Well-worded oral pitch that clocks in at 87 seconds (thanks to some careful revisions) and that makes me giddy with pride? Check.

Well-researched list of agents, ranked according to best match for my work? Check.

Carefully chosen outfits that are both comfortable enough to wear all day and yet appropriately stylish? (Hey, you gotta look good.) Check.

Three-plus years of hard work, hopes and dreams? Che….

Wait a minute. The product of my three-plus years of hard work, hopes and dreams (and blood, sweat and tears) is staying behind. It’s here, this family, this house, this home. Two mostly healthy, mostly happy, remarkably normal children and one super-strong marriage.

Perspective? Check.


Since the outpouring of potential volunteers has been — ahem– rather slim, let me calm your fears.  Neither the Treasurers’ nor the Registrar’s jobs will take much of your time prior to the actual event.  I will do all of the necessary communicating with shavees in the days and weeks leading up to the event, making sure they’ve completed the proper paperwork, encouraging their fundraising efforts and so on. You would just need to study your list of responsibilities beforehand and then be prepared to work one long and tough day.  The Registrar will basically be sitting at a welcome table signing people in, making sure that everyone under 18 has a parental consent form signed and an official shavee number assigned to them and the like.  The Treasurers will need to be able to quickly separate out the various donations people bring with them the day of the event (although, like I said, most donations are made ahead of time online). St. Baldrick’s provides very specific instructions and forms and envelopes for each type of donation (cash, check, general donations, donations to teams or individuals, etc) and each thing needs to be properly identified and filed. I am happy to take on the bulk of the responsibilities before and after the event, but know that on the day of, I’ll need to be emceeing and overseeing the entire enterprise.  Oh, and (a bit of extra pressure now), the Foundation won’t mail out our promotional materials (and just wait until you see who’s featured on them!) until we have at least one Treasurer registered.

And now, for the fun stuff: For the last two years, Braedan and Mark have shaved as members of Team Austin.  Well, we’re having a Beatles moment and this year they’re splitting up.  Braedan would like to form his own team of friends and classmates, so if you count Braedan among your pals, please consider registering for Team Braedan. And Austin is also hoping to convince many of his friends and classmates to shave alongside him as members of the latest incarnation of Team Austin.  Mark will be shaving the following week at AJ Rocco’s for Team Gallagher and already has several members of the 2010 team, including one woman, considering signing up again.  I am sure we can encourage a bit of friendly (I hope!) familial competition around this one, so pick your favorite Gallagher and hop to it! I promise, your hair will grow back . . . .

I figured we better put all this media attention and celebrity to good use.  After years of bemoaning the fact that there wasn’t a good alternative to the very adult event at AJ Rocco’s, I’ve decided to host a St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event specifically aimed at kids and teens.

Mayor Kelly has graciously and enthusiastically offered us the use of the Cleveland Heights Community Center on the afternoon of Sunday, March 11, one week prior to the big event downtown. St. Baldrick’s provides a huge amount of support but, in order for this to be a success, I need YOU.

Here’s the scoop: I need two people who would like to serve as Treasurers. I have a document I can email to you if you’re interested that lays out all your responsibilities.  Almost everything can be done from your home computer leading up to the event and then you’d be responsible for collecting any cash or check donations on the day of the event.  (People are strongly encouraged to donate online prior to the event itself, which eases up the burden on the Treasurers and is the most efficient and cost-effective for St Baldrick’s.)  You would need to complete an FBI background check, but it’s all done online and is a piece of cake (honestly, you just enter in your birth date and social, no fingerprints or anything). I also need a Registrar, who would be responsible for registering shavees prior to and on the day of the event (but I will help out enormously in that regard). Whoever takes that job also needs a background check. The lovely ladies from Cut Studio on Lee have agreed to serve as volunteer head-shavers, so you know you’ll be in good hands.

If you are interested in either of the above roles or just in helping out in general, please let me know and I’ll forward you all the necessary materials. St Baldrick’s has been running these events for twelve years now and they make the process as easy as possible.  I’m sure there will be lots of little jobs in the days leading up to it, including things like baking cookies or buying bottled water. If you have any fabulous ideas about how to make this a fun family-friendly event, I welcome them.  I’m going to reach out to Flower the Clown to see if he’ll donate his time to make balloon animals for the kids (unless someone knows him well and wants to take this on).

I also have letters ready to go out to all the public, private and parochial schools in Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights and University Heights.  Children and teens from anywhere in Greater Cleveland are welcome, but I’m starting with a manageable area where I have lots of natural contacts.  If you want a letter to give to your school counselor or PTA or anyone else you think might be good at rounding up shavees, leave a comment here or on Facebook and I’ll forward you a copy.

And of course, the most critical component of the day: we need SHAVEES. We need brave young souls willing to go bald to stand in solidarity with all the children who lose their hair during treatment. I know it is a big commitment (one I am shying away from myself), but kids, and especially teenage boys, are the perfect participants (they’re so much less vain, you know). Feel free to form a team, either from your school, sports team, youth group, neighborhood or even family.  Teams can have as few as two members or as many as you can recruit. Shave in honor of a child battling cancer or choose one off the St Baldrick’s website (Austin, of course, is available to be honored by any and all!).   If you’re a grown-up thinking about shaving, please register at the AJ Rocco’s event on the following Saturday, following the St Patrick’s Day Parade downtown.  That is a fabulous event that raises more than $200,000 and I don’t want to draw anyone away from it (we’ll definitely be there).  But if for some reason, you’re unable to attend that one or if you still fall into the “youth” category (or know someone who does), please consider making this huge and public statement on behalf of kids with cancer.

To register, please click here.

As St Baldrick’s says, it takes all of us to conquer kids’ cancer.

February 2020
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