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November 19, 2012

Shave for the Brave

By: Jimmy Robertson

The Virginia Tech baseball team raises more than $35,000 to support childhood cancer research

Shave for the BraveTech baseball coach Pete Hughes and his players recently raised money for childhood cancer research and shaved their heads to bring awareness to the issue.

Two years ago, the Virginia Tech baseball squad presented a donation to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which supports childhood cancer research, in the amount of $500.

On Oct. 9, the amount of the donation was going to exceed $35,000.

The baseball program held its annual “Shave for the Brave” event, as more than 60 players, coaches, staff members and friends and family members of the Hokies showed up at the team’s hitting facility to have their heads shaved for charity. The players and coaches together raised more than $35,000 (final numbers hadn’t been tallied) – $10,000 more than the team’s target goal.

The money will be donated to Melina Brown, who is raising money for childhood cancer research on behalf of “46 Mommas Shave for the Brave,” a group that raises money for St. Baldrick’s research programs. Brown’s son, Levi – an adopted member of the Tech baseball team – was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a highly malignant primary brain tumor, when he was 4. Now 12, he is cancer free, but every day, 46 mothers in the United States are told their child has cancer.

“It was such a great event,” Tech head baseball coach Pete Hughes said of the Hokies’ “Shave for the Brave” event. “The last couple of years, I think we have done a great job raising awareness for childhood cancer, but sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is, and we did an unbelievable job of getting to the next level of fundraising and that was all on our guys. They took ownership in this thing.”

The players used social media and the Internet as a way to get the word out about their cause. Most of the players have accounts on both Twitter and Facebook, two social media sites, and used those accounts to send out reminders to their followers to go to the St. Baldrick’s website and donate.

Thanks to the power of social media, the end result turned out better than anyone could have dreamed.

It [social media] was the quickest way to reach out to all the Hokie alumni who are out there and who support us,” Tech outfielder Andrew Rash said. “The first night that guys started putting this on Twitter, we were getting money left and right. I think, after the first night, I had, like, $700 in a matter of three hours.

“And then, I think the reason you see such a big jump this year is because the people who are donating are being able to donate to a website, so they see their money going right there, and they can see the total rise toward our goal.”

The “Shave for the Brave” event was the baseball program’s eighth event of its “19 Ways” initiative. Each academic year, the program finds 19 ways to make a difference within the community. The 19 Ways initiative was the inspiration of Hughes, whose mother, the late Alice Hughes, constantly gave her time and resources to help others. Her favorite number was “19,” and Hughes wears that number in honor of her.