A lot of us had to put off haircuts for a few weeks this year. In her quest to fight pediatric cancer, this local woman is using the extra time to raise even more money before she shaves her head for the cause closest to her heart.
Oviedo resident Casie Shimansky was looking forward to going bald... again.
The date was set for March 28, 2020. For the third consecutive year, Casie was going to get her head shaved as part of an annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation event to raise money and awareness for childhood cancers.
But, like countless other public gatherings across the country and around the world, the Brave the Shave event, which was to be held at an Indian River resort in the city of Sebastian, Florida, was postponed in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
”We should be bald right now... but the universe had other plans.”
As captain of Team Live Out Loud, Casie tried to stay positive in the blog post she penned on March 28. She is well aware of our world’s current crisis but remains focused on her goal – to help the thousands of kids who are diagnosed with cancer each year. Since she began her fundraising campaign eight years ago, Casie’s team has raised more than $80,000 for St. Baldrick’s, and she’s hoping to surpass the $100,000 mark with this year’s campaign.
“We like to say, ‘There’s no day like shave day,’ especially for us,” says Casie, 36, who is joined on her team each year by husband Sean Moody, her father John Shimansky, and a handful of friends. “We raise money year-round, and everything comes together on that day. This is a full-time job for us – even though we both have actual full-time jobs.”
Casie, a copywriter and content editor for a tech company, was working as a photographer in 2011 when she was contacted by an Orlando firefighter who was looking for someone to take pictures at an event in Brevard County.
“A stranger reached out to me, and I had a free weekend, so I drove out to Melbourne,” Casie says. “I had no idea what to expect. I thought it was just some ordinary event.”
It was actually a St. Baldrick’s event, which took place in the back of a tiny bar. The events generally start with children who are undergoing cancer treatment or are in remission acting as the initial barbers, often with the help of their doctors. After that, the fundraising adults take turns getting their heads shaved.
“It was so emotional,” Casie says. “To see all these people, one after another, going bald, showing the kids that bald is beautiful. It grabs you immediately. I knew this was something I was going to do one day.”
Casie would photograph the event for seven straight years. During her second year, she proclaimed that she would shave her head after she got married – even though Casie wasn’t dating anyone at the time. But that would change just a few months later, when she began dating Sean. The next year, 2013, Casie formed Team Live Out Loud – in memory of her sister Kellie, who died at age 18 in 2004 – and Sean was all in.
“We were friends for many years beforehand, and I knew this was something she did, and I thought it was cool,” says Sean, 33, who has shaved his head every year since 2013. “But until you experience one of these events, you have no idea what it is like. It’s such a great cause. If getting a haircut could make a big impact on a kid’s life, that didn’t seem like such a sacrifice.”
The idea behind the St. Baldrick’s head-shaving events is to bring attention to the cause. In fact, after the event, participants get pins that say, “Ask Me Why I’m Bald.” Casie, who finally took the plunge two days after her March 22, 2018 wedding, takes it one step further by dying her hair and scalp before the shaving.
Sean and Casie actually planned their wedding around the 2018 St. Baldrick’s event. Casie had dyed her hair a lovely shade of purple for her wedding day, and then had all 19 inches shaved off a couple days later. The next day, the newlyweds put their wedding attire back on to create bald-and-beautiful photos.
In 2019, Casie told people that she’d dye her head rainbow colors if she raised $7,500, and – not surprisingly – it was mission accomplished. In fact, Casie has been her team’s top fundraiser every year, and in 2018, she ranked 26th in the world among individual St. Baldrick’s fundraisers.
“Most of my donations are 25 dollars and under,” says Casie, who has raised $60,000 by herself since 2013. “It’s a lot of people who give a little and care a lot. People think it’s a cliché to say, ‘Every dollar counts.’ But, literally, every dollar does count.”
As press time, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation was considering going completely virtual with its head-shaving events this year, so both Casie and Sean will be going bald at some point in 2020. In the meantime, their fundraising campaign continues. To read Casie’s blog or to donate to Team Live Out Loud, go to TheNameIsCasie.com.
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