By Jill Spotz

Allan P. Kirby Sports Center was literally buzzing last week during Lafayette’s eighth annual Shave for the Brave, which took place during halftime of the men’s basketball game against Boston University. The successful event was led by College Hill residents Susan and Tom Heard ’91, who lost their son, David, at age 10 to neuroblastoma in 2011. Before David passed away, he asked his parents to continue to fundraise for a cure.

And since then they haven’t stopped. In fact, the Heards have raised more than $600,000 for pediatric cancer research through their nonprofit, David’s Warriors. More than a third of the total was garnered through Lafayette-based Shave for the Brave events.

“David was a curious kid, and when he was diagnosed at age eight, he pretty quickly figured out what was happening and started asking questions, especially how to find a cure,” says Tom.

“When David was in the hospital, he would go down to the lab with one of his oncologists and look at his own cells. He wanted to understand what was happening. He started to develop his own opinions about the amount of research that needed to be done.”

The Heards attended their first Shave for the Brave with David while he was undergoing treatment. David was given the opportunity to speak about his experience to a packed football stadium in Emmaus.

“At the end of his speech, he said, ‘And now my mom will shave her head,'” says Tom. “He didn’t run that by Susan beforehand, but she obliged, and we have been going strong ever since.”

Over the last 10 years, Tom and Susan have shaved their heads more than two dozen times and have sponsored annual events at Lafayette and elsewhere in the Lehigh Valley in connection with St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which has invested more than $282 million in childhood cancer research since 2005. Living in close proximity to Lafayette made it a natural choice to host Shave for the Brave events at the College as the Heards have remained connected to Lafayette. They share many memories of David and his sister, Daisy, at basketball and football games.

The College’s connection with David and his battle with cancer began in 2010 when Mary Jo Lodge, associate professor of theater, invited David and his family to attend the theater department’s production of A Thousand Cranes. Lodge and the cast donated 1,000 folded paper cranes from the production to David, who in turn with help from Lafayette installed two paper crane mobiles at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg and St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia. After national media focused on the story, cranes started pouring in, and locally, Lafayette hosted crane folding events. Volunteers folded and strung nearly 100,000 cranes into mobiles since the project began in 2010. Some of these mobiles still hang in pediatric cancer centers around the country.

Last week, members of the Lafayette and College Hill communities joined together again to support Shave for the Brave, including many athletic teams. Men’s lacrosse took the lead by raising more than $3,100. Women’s lacrosse came in second with more than $1,600. Third place went to Lafayette football with $1,411. In total, more than $19,000 was raised to support pediatric cancer research, and 69 individuals participated. Salon services were donated by Debonare Hair Salon in Easton.

Ian Grayson ’22, an engineering science major, was cheered on by his football teammates as he went for a buzz cut.

“My uncle passed away from colon cancer,” Grayson said. “I think it’s good to do what you can to support this cause.”

The evening ended on an additional high note with a win for Lafayette, 61-59.

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