Kathleen Ruddy, CEO, St. Baldrick's Foundation Press Secretary Sean Spicer
What Makes Press Secretary Sean Spicer ‘Lose It’!
Here’s a riddle for you. What would compel Press Secretary Sean Spicer to lose his hair faster than being caught between President Trump and the national media? Answer: Kids with Cancer and St. Baldrick’s Foundation (SBF).
That’s right, folks. In 2012, Press Secretary Spicer shaved his head on ABC’s This Week, after raising $16,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation with the DNC’s Communications Director, Brad Woodhouse. Could there be a better reason for placing party loyalties aside than saving the lives of children suffering with Cancer? I think not.
It’s a selfless, bold and humbling experience in which Spicer and countless of other high profile, low profile, and no profile names have embraced alongside those they call the “crazy head-shaving people”. And this St. Patrick’s Day will welcome more willing participants to the fold -- all “braving the shave” so that children like Drake Medinger are given another seventy-one years to live...and ‘live’ well.
With childhood Cancer striking one new child every two minutes, few government dollars devoted to finding a cure, and only three new drugs approved for kids in the last twenty years, St. Baldrick’s Foundation refuses to rely solely upon the “luck of the Irish” to save kids. They are filling the desperately needed “pot of gold” with very real ‘green’ in hopes that, one day, death from pediatric Cancer becomes as fictitious as Leprechaun’s, themselves. You, too, can begin to help by reading the interview below.
What is your name and position at St. Baldrick’s Foundation?
Kathleen Ruddy, CEO
Share the mission statement of St. Baldrick’s Foundation?
“To support the very best trials in Cancer research to give survivors long and happy lives. We focus on Pediatric Cancer -- from birth to age twenty.”
What’s the history behind SBF?
In 1999, three very successful businessmen -
Tim Kenny, John Bender, and Enda McDonnell -
responded to the gratitude they felt in their own
good fortune by coming up with a brainstorm
of an idea -- raise donations for kids with Cancer
by shaving heads. Little did Enda expect that his
thick head of hair would inspire such an idea in
John’s own head, I suspect. But it did. A year later,
at the annual reinsurance industry’s St. Patrick’s
Day’s party, $104,000 was raised from nineteen bald heads and donated to fund research for the
Children’s Oncology Group. Today, this grassroots movement has raised over $200 million in childhood Cancer research funding. Funded 1060 grants. And provides funds to more than 368 research institutions in over 27 countries -- making it the largest privately-held Pedriatric Cancer research funder to-date.
How and when did you become involved?
I had spent my entire career in the nonprofit world and lost a number of loved ones to cancer. Growing up, I had wanted to be a pediatrician. Those two elements combined with the unexpected opportunity and invitation compelled me to hop-on-board the SBF train, full-time.
What makes SBF unique, beyond shaving heads?
We are the largest non-governmental funder of childhood Cancer research grants around the world.
You note that only 4% of all cancer research funding is devoted to curing childhood cancer and almost none of the funds dedicated to cancer research by pharmaceutical companies is dedicated to finding cures for kids? Why is this?
You will hear many reasons for this but when you “slice and dice” it, pharmaceutical companies are not charities and the majority of those suffering with Cancer are adults. Children ‘cured of Cancer’ may gain another 71 years of living (as opposed to adults with Cancer who average another fifteen years after diagnosis) but how that adds up in the heads of pharmaceutical companies is a whole other story. In addition, most philanthropic foundations also devote their funds to curing adult Cancers. There is a vast misunderstanding regarding how the amount of Cancer research resources is distributed between adults and kids. People think a great deal more funds are dedicated to childhood Cancer research than is. It’s a big problem.
You note that you are the largest private (non-government) funder of childhood cancer research grants, currently, giving 22 million dollars out of the 32.4 million research dollars applied for in 2016. How do you keep track of these dollars and the benefits, therewith?
We have a team of the best and brightest scientists from around the world review the applications and verify whether or not the research propositions found within are viable. Unfortunately, we have more applications than funds arrive through the door every year.
Share the names of some of the high profile people who have helped raise money for SBF?
Sean Spicer, Brad Woodhouse, Justin Tuck, Drew and Jonathan Scott (The Property Brothers), Melissa Joan Hart, and Olivia Newton-John.
Beyond adding to the pool of donations, how might social media mom influencers help SBF?
The biggest help they can give is to participate in raising the awareness around us and our events. Use your social media muscle to get the word out about SBF and our events. Everybody involved in the St. Baldrick’s community is helping to cure cancer. Be a social media warrior for SBF and kids and inspire “calls to action.”
When all is said and done, how do you hope SBF will be remembered?
Our goal is to put ourselves out of business, so I would like us to be pioneers, not accepting status quo, and welcoming people from all walks of like to help bring true cures to children’s lives.
As St. Patty’s Day will soon be upon us, ditch the dreads, curls, and silky strands for the Spicer-look as offered by St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Although, I doubt the ‘do’ will become mainstream, if enough of us adopt it, maybe curing childhood Cancer will. That’s one way of making America “great again”, don’t you think?
Many thanks to Kathleen Ruddy and St. Baldrick’s Foundation for making this interview possible