What does it mean to “Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Bald”? Just ask the residents of Kennedy Hall, a sophomore co-ed residence hall with 200 students, who last week raised more than $2,500 for Camp No Worries, through a “Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Bald” initiative. Camp No Worries is a week-long summer camp for pediatric cancer patients in New Jersey. In order to raise the money, 11 Kennedy residents pledged to shave their heads if a predetermined amount of money–the students’ goal was $2,000–was raised in the two weeks prior to the event on Oct. 10.
The Kennedy Hall staff chose to host the fundraiser to fulfill a programming requirement for University theme “Through the Eyes of Others.” Earlier in the year the staff decided that children’s cancer was a cause that mattered to each of them, and they wanted to do something to benefit these pediatric patients.
At the event last Thursday night, Belmont nursing students and cancer survivors Natalie Seale and Katherine Arnold each spoke about their own battles against the disease. Arnold said, “My experience with the nurses at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, many of them Belmont grads, definitely influenced my decision to become a nursing major and coming to Belmont. The whole community over there became like a second family.”
Seale, a sophomore, added, “When I walking through the Kennedy doors, I immediately was impressed by the turn out from the residents. The event, for me as a survivor, was powerful to hear my dear friend’s stories retold, to watch the pictures across the screen and to experience the head shaving event! The Kennedy students came together as a community, dedicated to raising money for the camp for kids with cancer in New Jersey. Camps like that can really change the life of a child who is battling cancer.”
Belmont Associate Professor of English Dr. Amy Hodges Hamilton and her father Bobby Hodges also spoke at the event, recalling their experiences the past two years as Hodges Hamilton’s daughter Grace, now 5 and cancer free, fought leukemia. Dr. Hodges Hamilton shared an excerpt of from a personal essay about the community she found among friends, family and new family members in the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Hodges then shared about the experience being a family member of a cancer patient. As he spoke, Hodges encouraged the Kennedy students to live each day to the fullest and to invest in family relationships and in God so that when hard times do come that they will be surrounded by a community of love.
During the program, 80 Kennedy residents listened to the speakers, watched a slideshow and asked questions. Not an eye was dry in the room as the speaking segment ended with the entire room singing “Amazing Grace” for Grace Hodges Hamilton, who was also present at the event.
On shaving her head, Resident Assistant Monica Vandahei said, “It feels really weird! But I have zero regrets! It was for a good cause, and I couldn’t be more proud of my Kennedy community for raising all of that money.”
To watch a video of the highlights of the night, click here.