WOU students to shave heads for cancer research event

Statesman Journal
By Justin Much

Vicky Meinert
Vicky Meinert

Nursing student Vicky Meinert of South Salem brandishes clippers in anticipation of having her hair shaved off as part of a St. Baldrick’s Day fundraiser for research fighting childhood cancer. Meinert will join 18 others on the Western Oregon University campus, including her husband Ian, who will lose her hair in the cause on Wednesday, March 9, 2011.

The countdown to getting her head shaved bald is a bit nerve-wracking for nursing student Vicky Meinert. But it’s nothing compared to the experience she went through watching “A Lion in the House,” a movie that chronicles the travails of five children battling cancer and treatments during six years.

Meinert, 27, is a second-year nursing student on the Western Oregon University campus’ Oregon Health Sciences University bachelor’s program.

The 2002 North Salem High School graduate earned her two-year associates degree through Chemeketa before deciding to tackle the nursing program.

She will be among 19 volunteers lined up to get their heads shaved on the WOU campus. The event begins at 3 p.m. today in the Werner University Center.

Joining her will be her husband Ian, 35, a South Salem High School graduate and Salem area businessman.
It was Vicky Meinert’s experience within the nursing program that motivated her to participate in “St. Baldrick’s Day.”

“I’m so glad that I had that assignment in nursing school last year (involving) watching “A Lion in the House,” Meinert said. “To see these kids go through these intense treatments, and then to see them relapse … It just affected me.”

Meinert was at once saddened by the situation and inspired by the tenacious fight. She remembered how one child, Alex, had an “amazing smile and energy.”

“That really affected me,” Meinert said. “ To see her battle and go through the treatments, and the next minute she had that smile — so resilient.

“This really put my problems into perspective,” she added. “It makes you realize how much you need to appreciate all your blessings in life.”

In that light, the volunteer forfeiture of her long, jet-black hair is a trifling matter to Meinert.
“It will grow back,” she said. “I even look forward to trying new styles as it does.”

But mostly she looks forward to reaching her goal of $2,000 in pledges.

St. Baldrick’s is a described as a nonprofit, volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers.

The Foundation raises money for childhood cancer research primarily through head-shaving events, which take place nationwide and in 28 countries. “Shavees” are sponsored by family, friends, employers, etc. They shave their heads in solidarity with kids who typically lose their hair during cancer treatment.

In 2010 a total of 38,322 received the haircut (34,401 were men) through 804 events that raised $22,192,066.
Since 2005 St. Baldrick’s has raised $56, 935,153 with more than 80 percent of going directly to the cause.

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