Students Brave the Shave to Support Childhood Cancer Research

Brave the Shave is an event where men, women and children from the country make a big impact to the community that is affected by cancer. This year, Brave the Shave took place Sunday morning in front of the UT Tower.

By Alejandra Martinez

Brave the Shave started in 2010 with three guys who challenged each other to shave their heads and raise $17,000 to fund childhood cancer research. The night after making the bet they raised about $100,000 and six years later Brave the Shave continues. All money goes towards pediatric cancer research and treatments.

An organization at the University of Texas at Austin called S.M.I.L.E. (Students Making Impacts Through Love and Empathy) has partnered with the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity that funds childhood cancer research for their annual Brave the Shave. 

The event had live music from DJ Motivate, activity booths, information booths and picture booths.

The goal for this year was to raise $100,000 and when concluding the event the president of S.M.I.L.E. said they raised more than any previous year, $93,847.. “Since January we have been contacting business and barbers asking for like profit shares, fundraising via Facebook, twitter and any social media,” sophomore business and anthropology major David Aguirre says, who is a member of S.M.I.L.E. and shaved his head on Sunday.

Aguirre says that initially, he did not want to do Brave the Shave because he was scared to let go of his hair. “Through S.M.I.L.E. I started to volunteer at the hospital with kids who had cancer and they were just so strong and courageous,” Aguirre says. “Now I will say I shaved my head because of these kids.”

Along with Aguirre and many other UT students, Brave the Shave is their way to give back to the community and make an impact.

Political communication sophomore Abraham Flores also shaved his head on Sunday. A couple years ago Flores’ mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. “You think cancer is not something that affects you until it does,” Flores says. “The day I got the news was probably one of the worst days of my life.”

Although his mom is cancer free now he says it is always hard to think back at of that point in time. “For me to chop of my hair and raise a little bit of money is the least that I can do for this cause,” Flores says.

For others it is their way to redefine beauty and make others aware that bald is beautiful.

Business sophomore Jimena Gamboa Bonilla’s hair is about 22 inches long. She says that one of the reasons she is doing Brave the Shave is because of her father. Bonilla says once she had told him about the event he thought it was a great idea and asked her why she wasn’t doing it if is something she so strongly believes in. Bonilla in that moment then decided this was something she really wanted to do.  “My dad is a crazy person that loves and encourages me to the craziest things and he said nothing in life should scare me.”

Bonilla has paid particular attention to shampoo commercials since her commitment to shaving her head and says that in today’s society a big beauty guideline is having big, beautiful, luscious hair. She hopes that this will help her find her inner beauty and not be defined by social norms. “It’s a big step to accept what beauty is and what I want beauty to be,” Bonilla says. “I shouldn’t care what people think, I shouldn't care if they think I am beautiful, I should think I am beautiful.”

Before shaving her head Bonilla was nervous just as many others but friends, family and many others showed each Brave the Shave participant a gesture of support by cheering them on as they gave up their locks for a cause.

Organizers say that more than 150 people Brave the Shave and that together they can fight and win the battle together. “This event has just been so inspirational, seeing the so many people go up there and them reading of their reason for doing this touches my heart,” David says.