Braving the Bald for the Kids

March 19, 2015
Topics: Riley Kid Story, Cancer (oncology)

briget thumb
Riley doctors shaving their heads for St. Baldrick's

In January 2005, our then 8-year-old son, Joey, was diagnosed with a bone cancer called osteosarcoma. We soon settled in to a treatment routine in and out of Riley Hospital for Children, developing a great appreciation for the caring, skilled and hardworking nurses and doctors there. While we knew that someone with both an M.D. and Ph.D. must be brilliant, we soon found out that Joey's pediatric oncologist, Dr. Rob Fallon, also had a wonderful way of dealing with kids and parents.  

Shortly after Joey’s diagnosis, we learned about the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a charity dedicated to funding children's cancer research and giving survivors long and healthy lives.  It is the leading funder of childhood cancer research grants, behind only the U.S. government. Its signature event is head shavings, which show empathy for kids going through chemo—an issue that our family grappled with when Joey lost his hair.

My husband Chuck first shaved his head for St. Baldrick’s in 2005, and we’ve hosted an Indianapolis event every year since, raising $1.2 million.  Over that same period, Riley Hospital has received more than $1 million in grants from St. Baldrick’s for research, support for clinical trials and even the appointment of St Baldrick's Fellows and Scholars. This year, Drs. Renbarger, Ferguson, Delgado and Liu shaved, and Dr. Fallon has also “braved the bald.”

Joey is now a healthy 18-year-old about to graduate from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. We have seen the excellence of Riley as a patient-focused clinical institution and a premier pediatric cancer research center. And why are we still involved?  Because as IU Health CEO Dan Evans said at a recent Riley Children’s Foundation luncheon, "Kids don't have a vote, and in many ways they don't have a voice, so we must be involved through institutions like the Riley Children's Foundation to speak for them and provide for them." 

To learn more or donate, visit

Briget Chamness

Briget Polichene Chamness serves on the Riley Society Committee and is an attorney specializing in financial services. She shaved her head for St. Baldrick’s Foundation for the second time on March 13th, 2015. Her husband, Chuck Chamness is in the middle of a three year term as chairman of the St. Baldrick's Foundation and is currently experiencing his annual season baldness. He is CEO of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies in Indianapolis.

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