Metro East 9-year-old joins fight for childhood cancer cure

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ST. LOUIS – The effort to find a cure for childhood cancer is taking on a new look this year.  The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is known for head-shaving events that raise millions of dollars for research aimed at curing childhood cancer.  The events bring together individuals willing to lose their hair in return for sponsors making contributions to a foundation that has provided more than $300 million in childhood cancer research grants since 2015.

COVID-19 forced the foundation to look for alternative ways to keep the head-shaving tradition alive.  St. Baldrick’s Foundation has been able to hold virtual events including one today.

9-year-old Chava Piepgrass agreed to part with her hair Sunday because two of her friends died of childhood cancer. 

“I want to make sure that some kids that are in the same situation have even more of a chance to grow up than they already have,” Chava said.

Chava’s father, Seth Piepgrass hopes his daughter is part of a group of volunteers who raise enough money to find a breakthrough that eliminates childhood cancer. 

“Hopefully with the support of groups like St. Baldrick’s we can move that needle to the point where it’s a far distant memory,” said Seth.

Chava hopes her involvement will help calm the nerves of anyone apprehensive about losing their hair in support of St. Baldrick’s Foundation.  

“There’s no need to be scared,” she said.  “It grows back and by doing this you are helping people with cancer.”

Kelsey Canan is the event development manager for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.  She said Chava’s willingness to help is an inspiration.

“This is so just so truly beautiful and it makes such a big difference,” Canan said.  

Canan said virtual events have produced some unexpected benefits.  Volunteers are able to meet some of the researchers involved with finding a cure and some of the patients the fundraising aims to benefit.

“It gives them more of that individual one-on-one time to kind of show them the full circle of where the funds are going and the difference that it’s all making,” said Canan.

She said anyone can find a way to support St Baldrick’s at www.stbaldricks.org.

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