This is the week we celebrate Irish culture. In communities around the globe, people will honor St. Patrick’s Day with music, dancing, food, drink, and for some, shaving their heads.
My maternal grandparents were Irish immigrants. Their story and their spirit are very much alive, as those humble beginnings are a deep part of who I am today. While I feel very connected to Irish culture, I have often wondered — who the heck is St. Baldrick?
He was not a saint but rather a testament to an idea from three friends to shave their heads to raise awareness of, and money for, childhood cancer. In 2000, their bet was to shave 17 heads in a bar on St. Patrick’s Day to raise $17,000 for the Children’s Oncology Group. They raised more than $100,000 and the name St. Baldrick was born.
Today, St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the second largest funder of childhood cancer research after the Federal Government. Since 2005, $258 million in research funding has been granted. That’s a lot of shaved heads in a lot of bars. But, when you consider that every two minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer, bring on the barber.
A profile of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation CEO, Kathleen Ruddy, can be found in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Her story is exemplary and a testament to her heritage.
This spirit of giving, volunteering, and having a deep concern for the health and welfare of one another is part of what it means to be Irish. In fact, Gallup released a report in December of the “World’s Most Generous Countries.” According to the report, “In 2017, worldwide, 1.4 billion people donated money to a charity, 1 billion volunteered their time, and 2.2 billion helped a stranger in need.”
The emerald isle of Ireland was ranked as the fifth most generous country, well ahead of its European counterparts on Gallup’s civic engagement index. Ireland was in the top ten for “most likely to donate money to charity” and in the top six for “most likely to volunteer time to an organization.”
My grandparents would be proud.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO