Oregon catcher Gwen Svekis is committed to going bald for a good cause. But first, she has to reach her fundraising goal of $10,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
St. Baldrick’s supports pediatric cancer research, and the cause is one that is very close to Svekis’ heart, as her mother recently battled and beat cancer.
The UO fundraising event is being put on by the Ducks’ women’s soccer team, and, in an effort to raise awareness and funds on campus, started a competition to see who could be the top fundraising team amongst their athletic peers at Oregon. “They told us how to do it, what it was, all of that,” Svekis said. “We all set up our fundraising pages during a rain delay one day, and within something like twenty minutes, we had already raised close to $2,000. It was crazy.”
Motivated and buoyed by her team’s early fundraising prowess, Svekis decided to put her own hair on the chopping block – both figuratively and literally.
“When we set it up and started raising money so fast, I was really inspired,” Svekis said. “And I thought about it – my hair is super long right now, I want to get it cut anyway. So I said that I’d cut off ten inches of my hair if I raised $1,000.”
Svekis met her $1,000 goal in less than six hours.
“I called my mom and I wasn’t sure what to do from there,” Svekis expressed. “Obviously, we had something here and I didn’t want to stop fundraising. And I remember, my mom said ‘it always grows back’.”
In the midst of her own cancer battle, Holly Svekis had asked her daughter not to shave her head. Now, in the spirit of raising money for kids who needed it, she was the first one to encourage Gwen to “brave the shave”.
The morning after reaching her initial $1000 goal, Gwen upped the ante, publicly committing to shave her head entirely if she reached her new fundraising goal of $10,000.
Currently plateaued just above the $2,500 threshold, Svekis still has a ways to go before reaching the go-bald mark. The shaving event will take place on April 22nd, and whether she shaves her head or donates a significant portion of her hair, the Ducks’ senior star has already made an impact for a cause that she cares about.
“I hope that some awareness is brought to this organization,” Svekis said about her participation in the event. “I’ll be happy with whatever amount I am fortunate enough to contribute to a great cause… any amount helps. if $5 can bring us that much closer to finding a cure for this disease, why wouldn’t you want to say that you contributed?”
Contributions are still being accepted on Svekis’ personal St. Baldrick’s fundraising page, found here. The Ducks softball team enjoys a comfortable lead in the fundraising competition, with more than $10,000 raised thus-far. Sophomore pitcher Miranda Elish is the third-highest fundraiser for the event, with nearly $1,300 contributed.