Late in the winter of 2008, a group of Freshmen Class Council members began planning a service event to honor of one of their classmates, Duncan resident Sam Marx. Sam had come to Notre Dame during his fight against cancer and touched many lives during his short time on campus. Catherine Soler remembered attending a dance with Sam because he was so “full of life and smiley.” When Sam left school for further treatment, members of the FCC began to think about how they could keep his presence on campus alive and play their part in the fight against cancer. Catherine and other FCC members had previously heard of St. Baldrick’s events in their hometowns, and came up with the idea to bring a similar event to campus in Sam’s name. Through their work, “The Bald and The Beautiful” was born.
On the first day of TBAB, Catherine remembers, “Sam's dad came out to the event on campus and gave a heartwarming speech to kick off the event.” Members of the football team were among the 126 students who turned out to shave their heads in support of the cause. A large group of men from Duncan Hall also came to shave their heads in solidarity with Sam. Because the St. Baldrick’s Foundation benefits pediatric cancer research, the FCC had also invited children and doctors from the pediatric oncology department at Memorial Hospital to attend the event. During the week of the first TBAB event, word about the head shavings spread around campus, and several students even shaved their heads during Professor Carl Ackerman’s class. Catherine knew that the event resonated with the student body and that people fell in love with the cause, because the “event became about everyone’s Sam - their grandmother, their uncle, their friend.” Unfortunately, Sam passed away that July, leaving behind a legacy that would continue to grow with each year of the event.
After such a successful TBAB event, the FCC group knew they needed to add more people to the planning committee. A core group of ten people emerged to work on TBAB and the Sophomore Class Council took over the planning for the next year. Catherine said, “We wanted to have more people be able to participate without shaving their heads and also wanted to provide monetary support to Memorial Hospital's Pediatric Oncology ward. We came up with adding hair donations for Pantene Beautiful Lengths and colored hair extensions to benefit Memorial Hospital.” The additions were a huge success, enabling a greater percentage of the student body to participate. In the third year of TBAB, Catherine served as student body president and the event came under the direction of Student Government for the year. During this time, she recalls, “I have distinct memories of sitting around the Student Government office late at night on Thursdays and Fridays and feeling so fortunate to be around such generous, inspiring people dedicated to this cause, one much larger than ourselves. I carry their spirit with me in my work now and find those moments to be some of my most treasured from Notre Dame.”
In the fourth year of “The Bald and The Beautiful,” committees really began to take shape as the founding members prepared to pass their hard work on to younger Notre Dame students. The event now involved other offices around campus, outside sponsors, and media outlets. Fundraising efforts totaled close to $200,000, with each year bringing in more donations. Support came from all over campus, as TBAB became “a beautiful, unifying and celebratory event for those battling cancer and their loved ones.”
Since leaving Notre Dame, Catherine still sees the impact of TBAB touching different areas of her life. She left her first career to work on a start-up company with causes similar to those of TBAB, because she understood the importance of feeling such drive for her work to mean something more. Her time with TBAB taught her the importance of passion, which leaves you “up all night doing things you really care about.”
To date, the club has raised over $300,000 for pediatric cancer research.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens during the event?
TBAB is a 3-day event, held annually in the Sorin and Dooley rooms of the LaFortune Student Center. Over the course of these days, supporters shave their heads in solidarity with cancer patients, donate 8-inches of hair to be donated to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program, and/or receive multi-colored hair extensions in support of those inflicted with various forms of cancer.
Do I need to Pre-Register for the event?
While we encourage participants to Pre-Register for head shavings and hair donations in the days and weeks leading up to the event, walk-ups are always welcome. TBAB members are always on hand to get you registered and accept donations throughout the event.
Where do the donations go?
Donations given to TBAB are split between the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Beacon Children's Hospital in South Bend. St. Baldrick’s is a national organization that helps fund pediatric cancer research, in addition to supporting the children inflicted and their families. Donations sent to Beacon Children's Hospital are reserved for use in their Pediatric Cancer wing, and will ultimately be used for the improvement of these facilities.
Can I monitor how much has been donated in my name?
Yes! If you would like to know donations made to your name, email email@example.com.
How can I get involved?
For Students, it’s as easy as joining our club! We host meetings every Sunday at 3PM in the Dooley Room of LaFortune. You can also get involved by volunteering at the event. If you’re part of a dorm, team or club, work with us to get your whole group involved and become an official partner!
For Alumni, you can help us reach out to your fellow alumni around the country to let them know what TBAB is doing to find a cure. You can also host a TBAB event in your own city!
For Stylists, you can give an hour or a few hours of your time at our three-day event helping to shave heads, cut hair for wig donations, or apply hair extensions. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign-up for a time.
For all other supporters, you can either visit our donation page to become a sponsor, or email us at email@example.com and we can work together to get you involved.
What is the minimum fundraising required to shave my head?
We ask that you donate $15 to shave your head. If you donate $20 or more, you will receive a participant shirt! Additional fundraising is highly encouraged! There is no minimum donation for hair donations, but participants can buy a shirt for $10.
How long must my hair be for donation?
Hair donations must be at least 8-inches in length. Your hair can be colored treated. See https://www.childrenwithhairloss.us/ for more details!
Are my donations Tax Deductible?
Yes, donations to Notre Dame Social Service clubs are eligible tax deductions. If you need supporting documentation, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.