When speaking with Jeff Freedman about his Be Bold, Be Bald! fundraiser you quickly learn that wearing a bald cap to honor a cancer patient is less about helping the sick than it is honoring the strong. He says this thinking about his friend Mike Connell, who co-founded the ad agency Small Army with Jeff, and lost a two-year battle to cancer in 2007.
“Sure, Mike lost his hair, a lot of weight and was weak,” said Jeff. “But Mike and other cancer patients that lose their hair are some of the strongest people in the world. Wearing a bald cap for just one day honors that strength.”
According to Jeff, wearing a bald cap also requires some strength, and isn’t for the faint of heart.
“You really have to set your vanity aside,” explained Jeff. “People look and point at you. It’s an awkward feeling to wear it wherever you go–even for just one day. But you realize that people with cancer who have lost their hair can’t take off their bald caps. The realization is both striking and humbling for our participants.”
The simple power of wearing a bald cap may explain why Be Bold, Be Bald! has participants from across the United States and has raised nearly $500,000 since 2009. This year’s fundraiser will be held on November 2nd.
“Since Be Bold, Be Bald! is such an intensely visual fundraiser we plan to use Pinterest to promote the event,” said Jeff. “Over the next couple weeks we’ll invite supporters to upload custom designed bald caps. The top two or three that we like the most will be sold in the Bald Shop next year.”
If you’re like me and already sporting a real-life bald cap all year long, the creative team at Jeff’s company, Small Army, has created temporary tattoos for the follicly-challenged.
Anyone can participate in the fundraiser, but Jeff has seen the power of the fundraiser as a team event–even for his own company.
“This event brings our entire agency together,” said Jeff. “Not everyone at the agency knew Mike because they joined the company after he passed, but most people have a connection to cancer. It’s brought the agency together. It’s something we rally around and feel good about. It’s made our agency stronger.”
Making Be Bold, Be Bald! a team event also gives people the courage they’ll need to venture outside in their bald caps. “It’s definitely easier to walk into a Starbucks with a group of people in bald caps,” said Jeff.
The money raised from this year’s event with benefit two-dozen organizations that are battling cancer. Some of these organizations are well known such as LIVESTRONG. But Be Bold, Be Bald! supports lesser known organizations too.
Massachusetts–based Heaps of Hope helps women with cancer who struggle with prescription co-payments, mounting medical bills, and expenses like groceries for their families. Last year’s Be Bald! event raised nearly $14,000 for the organization.
To learn more about Be Bold, Be Bald!, visit their website. I’ll be joining the fundraiser this year to honor two special people. A friend who died of brain cancer in August, and my much beloved godmother, who died of complications from colon cancer last Saturday.
Join Jeff and me in our bald caps. Be Bold, Be Bald!