Mary Beth Brooks always knows how to brighten someone’s day.
I pass by the Institute of Catholic Studies nearly every day on my way to class and give her a friendly wave through the windows of the office. But, when I walked by Monday, something didn’t seem right.
What happened to Mary Beth’s hair?
Not to worry, she told me when I walked in and asked if everything was okay. Little did I know the whole story behind the buzzcut.
Brooks’ grandson, 7-year-old Shane Haddad, has suffered from a cancerous brain tumor for the past three years. He underwent multiple major surgeries and nearly lost his battle before a doctor stepped forward with an option for radiation.
Brooks said the results from the radiation treatment showed that Shane’s tumor isn’t growing anymore, but he continues to fight his courageous battle with the help of family, friends, classmates, teachers and others in the community.
Shane’s parents, Eric and Amy (a 1998 graduate of John Carroll University), and others formed a team through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The foundation, which raises money for child cancer research, is famous for its head-shaving events.
At first, Brooks said she wasn’t so keen on getting shorn. “I really did have a hard time with it,” she said. But she later decided it was worth it.
Months ago, when she first told Shane she was going to participate in the head-shaving, “he belly laughed,” Brooks said. If I can make him do that, it was completely worth it, she said.
Those that participate in the head shaving show their solidarity with patients fighting childhood cancer, which – according to statistics from the foundation – is diagnosed every three minutes worldwide.
Brooks was one of six people to get her head shaved, the only grandma of the bunch, on Sunday.
“I did get him to laugh a couple times that day,” she recalled. “He said, ‘You’re looking good.’”
Brooks told me their team, the “Westhaven Warriors,” raised approximately $155,000 at the event, which puts them $20,000 short of their team goal. In my mind, that’s impressive.
Many of my friends on Facebook have shared the YouTube video of Mary Beth losing her hair. Right next to her is Shane, holding her hand.
“He’s really very grateful all the time,” Brooks said. “He always says thank you … [Shane is a] very sweet boy.”
Brooks said she highly encourages organizations, such as fraternities and sororities, to get involved with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. She said JCU would be a “prime place” to host events for the foundation.
Shaving one’s head is quite a sacrifice. I think I would have trouble making a commitment to shave my head. But, I admire those that step forward to show solidarity with children battling cancer.
If you stop by the Institute of Catholic Studies, you’ll see Mary Beth wearing a pin with a picture of her grandson with the words, “I shaved for my hero!” In the pin, Shane is wearing a Superman costume and flashing a big grin across his face.
Seeing Mary Beth sacrifice like this for her grandson is enough to make you smile.