This article was originally published in Chicago Catholic. Photo Credit Karen Callaway. The original article was published here: http://www.chicagocatholic.com/cnwonline/2017/0326/2.aspx?platform=hootsuite
This year Mount Carmel High School senior Rudy Melchiorre raised $136,000 for pediatric cancer research. In his four years at the school, located at 6410 S. Dante Ave., he has raised $671,000. Add that to what he and his older brother Michael raised during their combined years at the school and the young men have raised over $800,000. All of that goes to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Every year around St. Patrick’s Day, adults and young people at parishes and schools raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and have their heads shaved. That’s the tradition at the events, which benefit the California-based organization that awards grants for pediatric cancer research.
For this year’s St. Baldrick’s event at Mount Carmel High School on March 17, the school raised $142,000.
The first St. Baldrick’s event took place in 2000 in New York City with a group of friends who wanted to do something to raise money to support research related to children with cancer. Since 2005, the foundation has awarded more $200 million in research grants.
Other area Catholic schools that participated were St. Barnabas, St. Cajetan, Queen of All Saints, St. Mary of the Woods, De La Salle Institute and St. Rita High School, according to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website.
Melchiorre said he and his family have “built up a client list over eight years now” of people and businesses they ask to donate.
“My brother and I started this because our great-uncle died of cancer,” he said. “When you connect your story with people and what you’ve been through and what happened with your family they want to donate.”
The boys started when Rudy was in fifth grade and his brother was in seventh grade at Frances Xavier Ward School. His brother brought it to Mount Carmel when he began there.
“We started out the first year with a goal of $1,000 and got $50,000. Our biggest year was his senior year and my sophomore year when we got $210,000,” Melchiorre said.
Over the years he’s had the chance to talk to kids with
“It just makes you realize that there’s so much more than yourself in this. You have to do everything that you can to help those who are in that situation,” he said.
Just because he graduates in May doesn’t mean he’s through with the St. Baldrick’s tradition.
“My plan is to take it to whatever college I go to,” he said.
The 40 students who had their heads shaved wore blue T-shirts with “Rock the Bald 2017” on the front and “Go Bald or Go Home” on the back.
The head-shaving took place during an all-school gathering in the school’s Cacciatore Athletic Center. Students participated in tug-of-war and limbo contests while the others had their heads shaved. It culminated with Principal John Stimler, also a St. Baldrick’s participant, getting a “pie” of shaving cream in the face at the hands of students.
Mount Carmel started its St. Baldrick’s events 10 years ago because a school family had a child with cancer. Both students and faculty participate, according to Sean Sweany, co-organizer of this year’s event and a Latin teacher at the school. Sweany has participated for seven years.
“They [the students] do just a phenomenal job raising money for what’s a really good cause,” Sweany said.
Jennifer Lopez agreed. She came to watch her son Blake, a freshman, have his head shaved.
“It’s a great cause and I think if we can get these kids involved in charity from this age can you imagine what they are going to do as adults, on their own when mom and dad aren’t holding their hands and kind of prodding them along to do this?”