Mother gets close shave to help cancer patients


March 22, 2002|By Lesa Jansen | Lesa Jansen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A MOUNT AIRY mother made a personal sacrifice to raise funds for children's cancer research.

Beth McQuin was one of six volunteers from the Washington area to get their heads shaved as part of an international fund-raiser last week.

Wearing a T-shirt with the handwritten names of 500 children who are in treatment for cancer or who have died from the disease, McQuin was the only woman to participate at Fado Irish Pub in Washington.

"I wanted to make it real for people. These are kids I have known or whose parents I have come to know through my nonprofit organization or on my Web site. Of the 500 names, 180 I call my angels. These are the kids who have died," said McQuin, the parent of a childhood cancer survivor.

"Each year more than 12,000 children are diagnosed with cancer in this country. One-third will lose their lives to the cancer and treatment-related complications.

"In the Mount Airy area alone, six children have lost their lives to cancer in the past three years. We need to raise awareness and funding for research to help save more lives," McQuin said.

People in 35 American cities as well as in Poland and Bermuda raised more than $625,000 for the National Childhood Cancer Foundation. The foundation supports research in 235 children's hospitals and medical centers in North America.

Two years ago, a group of New York insurance executives started the fund-raiser, St. Baldrick's Day celebration, to create a St. Patrick's Day celebration with meaning.

Their goal the first year was to raise $17,000 on March 17. Participants at Irish pubs around New York raised more than $100,000 in pledges to shave their heads. This year, organizers expanded worldwide. McQuin sought local sponsors for her effort, including Mount Airy Mayor Gerald R. Johnson, who is exploring bringing the fund-raiser to Mount Airy next year. McQuin raised more than $2,000 in donations.

"I am still getting used to my bare skin [on my head]. You really feel vulnerable and exposed to the curious stares. I know I made this decision to raise money and bring about awareness, but the kids who are losing their hair to cancer treatment don't have that decision to make," McQuin said.

The Mount Airy mother and her family formed the nonprofit organization One Voice USA to raise money for childhood cancer research after her son was diagnosed with the disease when he was 8 years old. After a recurrence of the cancer and a bone marrow transplant, her son, who is 20 years old, attends college in Virginia.

McQuin tries to help other families of children with cancer on her Web site.

"We want to empower families with information so they can be their child's best advocate," McQuin said.

For more information:

Community blood drive

A community blood drive will be held from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at the Firemen's Activity Building, Twin Arch Road and Route 27 in Mount Airy.

The Red Cross stresses that blood donations have fallen off drastically since the surge in donations after the terrorist attacks Sept. 11. At this time of year, the supply of blood is usually low because of bad weather or winter illness. Appointments are not necessary but are recommended to save waiting time. Information: 301- 829-2822.

Senior center dance

Mount Airy Senior Center will hold a hoe-down dance and dinner from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 6.

Dancing, including square dances and line dancing, will follow a dinner of traditional Western food. Charlie Stockman will provide music. The cost is $3.

Information: 301-829-2407 or 410-795-1017.

Lesa Jansen's Southwest neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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