On Saturdays in the fall, the dome at Notre Dame stands as a symbol of tradition, strength, and skill.
But every spring for the last four years, football players who play under the Golden Dome, have dedicated their own domes to fighting cancer at an event called “the Bald and the Beautiful.”
Athletes who garner the community spotlight leave their locks on the floor to raise awareness and money to fight cancer.
"People make all these comparisons to how tough football is and everything like that,” said Irish center Mike Golic Jr, “but these kids are fighting for their lives."
To date, the event has raised more than $115,000 to benefit The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which helps raise awareness and research dollars to fight childhood cancer; Memorial Hospital of South Bend, a local hospital where many in the area turn for treatment; and Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which supports women cancer patients by ”giving the gift of healthy hair.”
While money for awareness and research is vital, the football players say the support they can show children struggling with the side affects of chemotherapy by sporting a similar look is just as important.
"We have the choice to come in here and do this. The kids that are going through chemo—they don't have the choice whether they lose their hair or not,” said center Braxston Cave.
Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, a player known for an insatiable desire to literally rock a quarterback’s world, said the new haircut will serve as a constant reminder of those less fortunate when he looks in the mirror.
"I think about the kids and what they go through (in) chemotherapy,” he said. “This small token of appreciation can really go a long way."
Each year a few families who have struggled or currently struggle with the disease are on hand to show appreciation for the newly bald and newly beautiful. And if you want to know what a simple shave of the head can do for a child, just ask a young leukemia survivor.
"It's just a wonderful thing,” said Brady Burkhart, shyly as he donned the jersey of his favorite Notre Dame football icon, Brady Quinn. “I really like it because everybody in this room is like celebrating for these kids."
You can join in with a donation at LaFortune Student Center through Friday night.