• By Laurel Kelly

In the Loop: Third-grader Sophie Vanderheiden ‘braves the shave’ to raise money for pediatric cancer research

June 4, 2019
In the Loop interviewee Sophie Vanderheiden and her dad Eric

For the third straight year, young Sophie Vanderheiden shaved her head to raise awareness, and money, for childhood cancer research during the annual St. Baldrick’s head shaving event.

Sophie Vanderheiden sits next to her dad, Eric, ready to get matching haircuts. Moments later, Eric's hair is being shaved off, and Sophie's thick, dark curls are, too. It's not a look most 9-year-old girls would sign up for. But for Sophie, losing her locks has become an important tradition. For the past three years, she's shaved her head to raise awareness, and funds, for childhood cancer research, including research taking place at Mayo Clinic. "It helps kids who have to lose their hair because they get sick, and this helps find a way for them to get better," she says.

Sophie first shaved her head back in 2017. "Our family tries to do something for a cause each year," Sophie's mom, Armanda Vanderheiden, a nurse at Mayo Clinic's Children Center, tells us. That year had been an especially difficult one for many of her patients. "A lot of kids had gotten a bad cancer diagnosis or found out their chemo wasn't working," Armanda says. She wanted to do something to help, and asked her family if they'd consider shaving their heads for St. Baldrick's Foundation, which raises funds for pediatric cancer research through head shaving events. Her family agreed, and together they raised $1,500.

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This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.