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‘Clips for Cancer’ raises $300,000 for children with cancer

The annual event was held during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

By Staff | Oct 6, 2021

Scott Vanderbrook and Jaxson Warren. PHOTO PROVIDED

Clips for Cancer raised $300,000 to ensure that programs and services are available for the increasing number of local children diagnosed with cancer at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

While Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Clips for Cancer ended Thursday, donations for the event are still being accepted to help as many children as possible.

More than 50 community leaders from throughout Southwest Florida volunteered to let pediatric cancer survivors shave their heads on Facebook Live during the month for awareness of the effects of cancer treatment, which often includes hair loss, while also raising funds for Barbara’s Friends – Golisano Children’s Hospital’s cancer program.

“The real impact of Clips is in the joy it brings our patients, said Dr. Emad Salman, regional medical director at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. “For our current patients, it’s encouraging and shows them that the whole community is behind them and supporting them. For our survivors, it’s a celebration of their difficult journey. It’s not only about raising the critical funds and awareness around pediatric cancer but bringing hope and letting kids be kids.”

Among the many highlights of the event:

· Frank Haskell, 92, who founded Barbara’s Friends with his late wife Betty, met his goal of raising $50,000.

· Armando Llechu, chief officer of hospital operations and women and children’s services at Lee Health, who was inspired to create the event after he met cancer survivor Mackenzie Hummer, raised over $50,000 towards his goal of $100,000 to shave both his head and beard. Mackenzie prevailed and was able to take both his beard and hair in the spirit of the event and the empowerment it brings to all the children battling cancer.

· Cal Bruno of Bruno of Brooklyn’s Restaurant, joined by first responders and community leaders, had his head shaved during the restaurant’s 7th anniversary outdoor block party celebration in downtown Fort Myers with the event raising over $40,000.

· First responders from the Lehigh Acres, San Carlos Park, South Trail, Iona McGregor, Bonita Springs, Estero and Port Authority fire departments, as well as Lee County EMS, Collier County Sheriff’s Office, and the Sanibel Police Department participated in the event.

· Riverdale High School students sold a T-shirt designed by a current cancer patient at Golisano and raised over $5,000 for Barbara’s Friends.

· Florida Radiology Consultants not only sponsored the event but offered another $25,000 to support head shavings of leaders, including two of their radiologists.

Behind the clippers were 20 pediatric cancer survivors from Golisano Children’s Hospital ages 8-23. Collectively, these survivors endured more than 30 years of treatment. Since it started in 2018, Clips for Cancer to date has raised over half a million dollars to assist families during their child’s cancer journey.

“It’s incredible what Clips has become. From an idea to honor Mackenzie’s battle to today, touching the whole community. To see so many people react in such a positive way and give so generously to help our kids battling cancer at Golisano is heartwarming and inspiring,” said Armando Llechu, chief officer, hospital operations and women and children’s services at Lee Health. “It’s hard to fathom how the idea of a haircut can be so empowering but that’s what it is. Clips for Cancer is different than any other event because it’s a feeling. It’s an emotional experience for me and for every person who gets involved. It’s changing lives one haircut at a time.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 100 children have been diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders. Thanks to events like Clips for Cancer, which inspired several other events during the month, and the generous Southwest Florida community, Barbara’s Friends has a 26-year history of helping kids with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders. To date, Barbara’s Friends has cared for more than 10,000 local children. The program helps offset the cost of medical expenses, programs and services to keep kids close to home for lifesaving care.

In addition to the shaving events, Barbara’s Friends Advisory Board members Jenna Montone held special donation classes at the Pure Barre Fort Myers and Gateway studios she owns, raising $2,000, and Justin O’Brien and his partners at 3 Peppers Burrito Co. donated 100% of proceeds from all kids’ meals sold throughout the month, raising over $3,500.

Clips for Cancer would not have been possible without the support of presenting sponsor Florida Radiology Consultants, location sponsor Great Clips and the support of The John E & Aliese Price Foundation and Dorcey Law Firm.

For information about Barbara’s Friends and how you can help local children, visit BarbarasFriends.org

About Barbara’s Friends – Helping Kids with Cancer at Golisano Children’s Hospital

Established in 1995, Barbara’s Friends provides equipment, staffing and services to support lifesaving cancer care for children from across Southwest Florida at Golisano Children’s Hospital. The Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program is the only program of its kind in Southwest Florida and has served over 10,000 patients since opening. No child is denied treatment or turned away because of their family’s inability to pay for care. For more information about the Barbara’s Friends fund and supporting child patients in your community, please call Lee Health Foundation at (239) 343-6950 or visit BarbarasFriends.org.

About Golisano Children’s Hospital

Established in 1994, Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida has been named a “Top Hospital” three consecutive years by The Leapfrog Group. It is the only recognized children’s hospital between Tampa and Miami. Lee Health opened the new 134-bed Golisano Children’s Hospital in May 2017, relocating the children’s hospital from the adjacent HealthPark Medical Center. It includes comprehensive pediatric services including a 24-hour pediatric emergency department, hematology-oncology unit, milk lab, Regional Perinatal Intensive Care Center, and Level II and Level III NICU with 70 private rooms. Golisano Children’s Hospital is proud to have been named Soliant’s 2018 Most Beautiful Hospital in the U.S., a recognition determined by popular vote. For more information, visit GolisanoChildrensSWFL.org.