Eight Niagara University students - three women and five men - will be shaving their heads this Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the student union to raise awareness and financial support for young adults with cancer.
"Shave to Save," slated for the Gallagher Center's Multipurpose Room, is a part of senior communications major Vincent Schiano's honors thesis, which focuses on educating students and rallying support within the Niagara University community on the fight against young adult cancer.
Participants have been fundraising prior to the event, largely via crowdfunding websites like www.gofundme.com. NU junior Vanessa Dunn, who recently lost her great aunt to cancer, has already surpassed $2,900 in less than one week of fundraising.
The students will announce the total amount raised during Wednesday's event.
All money raised will be given to the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, a nonprofit based in Baltimore that specializes in young adult cancer patient support services.
"We are trying to drum up as much support as possible for our peers," explained Schiano, a Gates native. "They are recent graduates from college, they are just getting engaged and beginning their first real-world job; a cancer diagnosis puts all of that on hold. They need the support and resources to be able to not only make it through treatments, but to live as normal of a post-cancer life as possible."
"Shave to Save" is the culmination of Schiano's thesis, which was to research student attitudes on cancer, and then construct a public relations plan to raise awareness and support for the cause.
According to the National Cancer Institute, young adult cancer patients (ages 15-39) struggle finding the necessary resources in order to maintain healthy physical and psychological health throughout treatment. In more than 30 years, young adult cancer patients have seen no improvements in treatment options - hence, the need for support in forms of patient navigation, education and scholarships.
Last summer, Schiano raised more than $7,100 by riding a bicycle from Baltimore to San Francisco as part of the 4K for Cancer program.
"Vince has once again matched his skills in PR and communications with his passion for cancer research in putting this event together," said Bill Newton, assistant director of campus activities. "Vince worked with our office to make 'Shave to Save' part of RidgeFest, and it is a perfect match. This is yet another great example of how giving our students are."
Donations will be collected at the event, and can also be made by contacting Schiano at [email protected].
About the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults
The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, founded in 1997, is the national leader in providing specialized support for young adults affected by cancer. With nearly 70,000 young adults diagnosed every year, the organization helps young people fight the disease and navigate treatment by providing access to information, support groups, and other specialized programs. UCF Patient Navigation Programs have set a national standard and can be accessed remotely or through onsite patient navigators at a growing number of hospitals in the Mid-Atlantic region. UCF is a founding member of the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance and a national pioneer in developing innovative approaches in cancer support. UCF enhances lives by supporting, educating and connecting young adults, and their loved ones, affected by cancer. For more information, visit, www.ulmancancerfund.org.