Amy Rachel had more reasons to go bald than she had hairs on her head.
Rachel, an accounting clerk for Loves Travel Stops and Country Stores from Mustang, went to Hollywood, Calif., recently to join 46 Mommas in a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research through the St. Baldrick's Foundation.
Rachel, 36, along with others from 17 states and Canada, shaved their heads outside the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on July 29. Her husband, Chris, 39, joined her as an “honorary momma.” The couple lost their 4-year-old daughter, Madison, last year to the disease.
St. Baldrick's is the largest funder of childhood cancer research aside from the government. Since 2005, the foundation has given $76 million in grants for childhood cancer research.
Rachel has teamed up with 46 Mommas, a group of mothers whose children have been diagnosed with cancer, to raise money and awareness of pediatric cancer. Since the group was started in 2010, they have raised nearly $800,000.
The number 46 holds significance for the group. On the average weekday, 46 families receive the news that their child has cancer, according to information provided by event organizers from St. Baldrick's. Rachel was one of those mothers in 2010.
Her daughter, Madison, battled an atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor, or ATRT, for 10 months before it claimed her life. ATRT affects the central nervous system and spinal chord. The survival rate for children diagnosed with ATRT is about 10 percent.
“There are more options for adults diagnosed with cancer,” Rachel said. “A lot of children cannot take chemo. Children younger than 3 can't undergo radiation because it's damaging, and there just aren't enough drugs out there for children going through cancer.”
Pediatric cancer research receives much less funding than so many other cancers, Rachel said. She also said that the best many children can receive are clinical trials, which are often ineffective.
This was Rachel's first year to help St. Baldrick's and 46 Mommas. She had heard about it last year but was unable to participate because she and her family were still helping her daughter battle cancer.
Celebrities volunteered their time for the event. Emmy Award-winner and former Miss USA Lu Parker emceed the event. “Celebrity barbers” included Jason George from “Grey's Anatomy,” Andrea Roth from “Rescue Me” and Omar Benson Miller from “CSI Miami.”
The Rachels' group, Team Madison, has a Facebook page as well as a fundraising page on Stbaldricks.org that can be found by searching “Team Madison.”
“We're trying every possible way to raise money,” Rachel said. “We're using Facebook, the Internet and word-of-mouth. Every little bit helps.”
Their goal is to raise $3,000 before the Dec. 31 deadline. Rachel has been doing different fundraisers to reach her goal, including a “coins for cancer” jar she keeps on her desk at work. She has no doubt this was a worthwhile cause.
“There's this motto that 46 Mommas has,” Rachel said. “Hair grows back. Kids don't.”