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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 1, 2010

Bald for a cause: Alexa DiCaprio raises over $6K for cancer research

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — Fourth-grade student Alexa DiCaprio shaved her head on March 21. In the months leading up to the haircut, she raised over $6,000 for childhood cancer research.

Alexa participated in an event called St. Baldrick’s Day. The event began on March 17, 2000, when three reinsurance executives — Tim Kenny, John Bender, and Enda McDonell — turned their company’s St. Patrick’s Day party into a fund-raiser for childhood cancer research. The trio recruited 17 coworkers to raise $1,000 each, and have their heads shaved.

That one event has grown into a nationwide fund-raising campaign. Each year, thousands of people shave their heads on St. Baldrick’s Day, in solidarity of children with cancer. Alexa became aware of St. Baldrick’s Day through her father, who is an orthopedic surgeon, specializing in bone cancer.

She attended a local St. Baldrick’s Day event last year, and decided “right then and there” that she wanted to shave her head, according to Amy DiCaprio, Alexa’s mother.

“It took me a whole year to agree to it. At first, I told her she absolutely could not shave her head!” said Mrs. DiCaprio. Around the same time, last year, Alexa met cancer patient Benjamin Stowell. Benjamin was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age 6, and went into remission, but, in 2008, doctors found that the cancer had metastasized, and his illness was terminal.

“I met him when he’d had cancer for three years. He seemed really nice, and I just wanted to do something for him,” Alexa said. She got to meet Benjamin several more times, once at a special event honoring his life, before he died in October 2009. His death made Alexa even more determined to fight for the cause.

“She kept telling her dad, ‘Sometimes you have to think outside of yourself, and give back,’” said Mrs. DiCaprio. In anticipation of St. Baldrick’s Day in March, Alexa launched a fund-raising campaign.

The DiCaprios held an awareness day at Alexa’s school, Pine Bush Elementary, to announce that Alexa would be shaving her head, and why. She sold St. Baldrick’s Day wristbands to her friends. Mrs. DiCaprio donated the proceeds from a Madison Handbags party. Carman Wine & Liquor set out a donation bucket at its store.

“It was such a community thing. You don’t think that one dollar is very much, but it all adds up,” Mrs. DiCaprio said. Overall, Alexa raised $6,233. She raised the most money out of all of the participants in Albany’s 2010 St. Baldrick’s Day.

“She’s very competitive, and she was constantly checking her donation page. She was psyched to see all the money coming in,” Mrs. DiCaprio said.

Alexa said it hasn’t been too hard to adjust to the shaved head. Mrs. DiCaprio said it hasn’t seemed to faze her at all.

“Sometimes I go into the bathroom to grab a brush, but then I remember there is no hair there,” Alexa said. She said she might shave her head again next year, on St. Baldrick’s Day, because one of her friends has been inspired to participate.

“My friends have all told me that I was really brave, and a lot of other nice things,” Alexa said.

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