BLACKSBURG, Va. – For the third straight fall, Virginia Tech baseball held its annual "Shave for the Brave" event as more than 60 players, coaches, staff members and friends and family of the Hokies had their heads shaved for charity. The event was held in association with the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which supports childhood cancer research, and “46 Mommas Shave for the Brave” organization.
Thanks in most part to the internet and social media, the program raised almost $35,000, but still counting – $10,000 more than the team's target goal. The money will be donated to Melina Brown, whose son Levi – an adopted member of the Tech baseball team – was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a highly malignant primary brain tumor, when he was four. Now 12, he is cancer free, but everyday 46 mothers in the United States are told their child has cancer, so the fight never ends.
The biggest applause and hair loss of the evening went to Marie Mogensen. The Herndon, Va. (just outside of Washington, D.C.) native and English graduate from Tech in 2009 had almost two feet of hair removed to support the cause.
Reactions from key individuals in the event’s success are below.
Head Coach Pete Hughes on the program making the event such a success:
“It was such a great event. The last couple of years I think we have done a great job raising awareness for childhood cancer, but sometimes you have to put your money were your mouth is and we did an unbelievable job of getting to the next level of fundraising and that was all of our guys. They took ownership in this thing.
“I drafted a generic letter and sent it to our guys. If they sent that out to their Facebook following, their Twitter following and their email contact list, that’s all they did, but it’s just amazing the power of social media and where we are today. It also speaks volumes of how generous people were and without social media, we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this.
Melina Brown, Levi’s mother, on the fundraising effort of the Hokies:
“I don’t even know what to say other than to maybe set the goal at 50 and start earlier. They raised almost $35,000 in less than three weeks … Unbelievable! Could you even imagine that?
“I told Pete that we should start an event on the St. Baldrick's website and that was about a month ago. And I thought there was no way we were going to reach our $10,000 goal (doubling the amount raised last year) in time, and then we hit it in three days.
“We just think these guys (the baseball team) are just so amazing. We are just really really proud of them, because they just went out there and did whatever, and it worked.
Redshirt senior Andrew Rash on the use of social media and the website on raising the money:
“It was probably a lot of the guys on the team’s idea to go on Twitter, because it was the quickest way to reach out to first, all the Hokie alumni who are out there and who support us, and second, it’s just the biggest social media platform out there today.
“The first night that guys started putting this on Twitter, we were getting money left and right. I think the first night, I had like $700 in a matter of three hours.
“The reason you see such a big jump this year is because the people who are donating are being able to donate to a website, so they see their money going right there and they can see the total rise toward our goal.
“I think on the website it’s also easier to donate a smaller portion. Every family can’t donate $100, however if you can get 1,000 people to donate $5, that’s a big hunk of change and some people just can’t see it that way. No amount is too small.”
Marie Mogensen, who only had her hair trimmed over the past three years, on why she made the four-hour drive to Blacksburg Sunday night despite not being associated with any of the ballplayers:
“This specific event I only found five days ago. I did Peace Corp for two years and there was an Australian volunteer who lived next to me and she and some of her friends had done this before. So, that inspired me and I wanted to find one in America, so that’s how I found St. Baldrick's.
“This was the closest event in our area and the one happening the soonest, and by soonest, there weren't any others close by until next year. So, we did some fundraising last minute, came up with some money and came down.
“I’m really excited about it (the haircut). Anyone that I get to tell about it, that’s just going to help raise awareness for this cause. It also helps me remember how blessed I am, and it will remind me of the people who have to deal with this.”
This was the eighth event of the 2012-13 academic year for 19 Ways - the baseball team's initiative to find 19 ways to make a difference in the community. For more information on the team’s 19 Ways program, please visit the Facebook page or contact Nick Beauchamp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For updates on Virginia Tech baseball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Baseball).