VERNON HILLS – The first time Hannah Lampinen shaved her head was a bit scary.
After doing it several times to raise money for childhood cancer, she now takes it in stride.
“It felt like I had the opportunity to make a difference, knowing all the proceeds go to research,” said Lampinen, a Libertyville native now living in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
She first took part in a St. Baldrick’s Day event as a college student at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
“If shaving my head could help find a cure to childhood cancer, that’s an opportunity I can’t pass up,” Lampinen said.
Seeking out a St. Baldrick’s Foundation event this year, she landed on Rock the Bald with Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills. Among about a dozen people shaving their heads at the March 26 event, Lampinen was the top fundraiser.
She brought in more than $3,000 of the event’s $10,000 goal. As of early this week, nearly $8,500 had been raised. All money raised goes to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research.
Each St. Baldrick’s Day event – whether held in person, virtually or individually – honors area children diagnosed with cancer.
Among the children honored as part of Rock the Bald at Hawthorn Mall was 10-year-old Zoe from Highland Park, diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and 10-year-old Somaya of Vernon Hills, diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Both are being treated at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Because of the pandemic and limited ability to host live events the past couple of years, this year’s fundraiser took on added significance.
Since St. Baldrick’s began, the five-year survival rate has risen from above 79% to 85%, but donations to support research have been down drastically, according to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
“At St. Baldrick’s alone, of the $9.4 million needed to fund every grant application that received an outstanding score in June 2021, only $3.5 million was available and granted,” the foundation stated. “That’s a lot of great research not yet funded.”
Last year’s Rock the Bald with Hawthorn Mall could only be held virtually, so participants were eager to be back in person this year, event coordinator Aimee Rabeler said.
Along with head shaving, this year’s event included a fun area for kids with painting and balloon art, as well as a raffle of retail items from Hawthorn Mall.
“It’s a pretty big event,” Rabeler said.
Among the event’s fundraisers were teams from the Vernon Hills Police Department and the Countryside Fire Protection District.
The Countryside Fire Nation Seasoned Heads team raised more than $1,600.
The Vernon Hills Police Department brought in more than $800.
Among those having their heads shaved were Edward Manke, the communications director for the Vernon Hills Police Department, and Police Chief Patrick Kreis.
To Kreis, the event not only served as a way to fundraise for “a great cause,” but also a way to connect with the community.
He’s shaved his head before as part of St. Baldrick’s Day events and decided to do so again this year.
“It grows back,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine there’s a better cause than that out there, and it’s a great way to show the community that we’re part of the community and we love participating in events.
“With the pandemic, it’s great to get back in person and have these interactions and be part of community events.”