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Baseball team, volunteers shave heads for cancer service project

Sophomore Global Studies major Erica O'Brien was one of several girls to get her head fully shaved at BaseBald for the Cure. O'Brien, who dubled her fundraising goal, said that she loves her new hair and now wants to 'redefine beauty.'

Even after a 9-5 win over Clemson, the crowd Saturday at Boshamer Stadium was treated to one last hair-raising spectacle.

Or rather, a hair-losing spectacle.

Before packing their bags and retreating to the locker room, members of the UNC baseball team joined five volunteers — including three female UNC students — to shave their heads for the second annual BaseBald for the Cure.

After the game, bullpen catcher Chase Jones took on an emcee role, introducing the volunteers and players as their heads grew hairless. As a cancer survivor and founder of the University’s BaseBald for the Cure, he was also the inspiration.

The game day event marked the culmination of a fundraising campaign that began in October, when Jones was elected Mr. UNC 2010 and given $500 to use for his service project. The campaign raised at least $16,000, about $10,000 more than the $6,400 raised a year ago.

Jones was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2006 and went through six months of chemotherapy. After he recovered, Jones rejoined the UNC baseball team with a newfound passion for raising cancer awareness.

All of the donated money will go to UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center for research in pediatric oncology.

Dianne Shaw, deputy director of communications for the center, said the department is particularly important to Jones.

“Chase wants to make sure these kids have the chance to live life,” Shaw said.

Chase Jones’ mother, Judith Jones, said she was also proud of her son’s determination.

“Him being a cancer survivor and taking his passion for finding a cure to this into another realm to help others is so admirable,” she said.

As his middle school baseball coach years ago, Kirk Sparks said he saw Chase Jones as a role model both on and off the field. Sparks said he continues to feel that way today.

“He’s a leader in his community, even when he doesn’t have to be,” Sparks said.

Although the majority of people who shaved their heads were involved with the baseball team, Chase Jones said community involvement increased this year.

In addition to the volunteers, 20 spectators shaved their heads with the help of two salons which set up tables outside the stadium.

“The support we saw from the Chapel Hill community was unbelievable,” Chase Jones said.

But he said he was especially touched by three young women who shaved their heads.

“Part of me is just blown away that they would commit themselves,” he said. “And part of me feels almost guilty because their beautiful hair will be gone.”

“These are good-looking girls,” he added. “God bless them.”

Each of the three women said they had either participated in Locks of Love or had previously considered shaving her hair.

Alison Grady, a junior, said her recent reconsideration of beauty standards helped shape her decision to participate.

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“I’ve started thinking what my definition of beauty is and why it is so important,” Grady said, adding hair is frequently equated with beauty.

She said she had thought about shaving her head before — but it was the good cause that ultimately prompted her to go through with it.

The other female students, Erica O’Brien and Virginia Montes-Aviles, both said they were excited after their heads were shaved.

“I’m so happy that I got to do this,” Montes-Aviles said. “It feels good, but I haven’t looked in the mirror yet, so I’m anxious to see it.”

O’Brien said she was excited about the fiscal benefits of a shaved head.

“I’m going to save so much money on shampoo,” she said.

Junior Seth Baldwin, an outfielder for the baseball team, said he is awed by the three girls’ support.

“That is amazing,” he said. “It takes a lot of courage for girls to do that. I don’t know many girls that would do that.”

Judith Jones said her son’s survival and motivation drove the event.

“I knew there was a reason why he was still here,” she said.

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