Since coming to town in 2006, Houston Dynamo players have made a significant commitment to serving their community. This week, the Dynamo - with defender Mike Chabala joined by 11 teammates - once again backed up that commitment with the third annual Bald is Beautiful event to benefit the Curing Children’s Cancer Fund.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with these children and their families and spent a lot of time in the Medical Center, and I just want to do my part,” said Chabala, who grows his hair out for the event every year. “We’re trying to find a cure for a horrible disease that affects a lot of children. Ten years ago, there was only a 10 percent chance of survival, and now it’s over 75 percent, but parents only see that their child has a 25 percent chance of dying.”
Bald is Beautiful is a chance for children suffering from pediatric cancer to come out, have some fun, and see their Dynamo heroes get a new look. Following Tuesday's reserve game, 12 Dynamo players - and one Dynamo Academy player on the reserve squad - had their heads shaved by pediatric cancer patients, and fans will have the opportunity to let Chabala shave their head prior to Saturday’s game.
The head-shaving not only shows support for the patients, it also raises money – most players raised at least $250 each before getting their heads shaved. Tuesday's event was both fun and emotional at the same time, with kids jumping at the chance to shave players' heads two at a time while hanging out with the other players.
“Every one of the guys has a good heart and wants to do something to contribute,” Chabala said. “There are a lot of selfless players on this team that just want to help in the community.”
Other fundraising opportunities this week included a silent auction in which donors bid on a number of items, including dinner with a player and soccer clinics; a raffle; and a marrow donor drive.
Chabala first got involved with the project when visiting area hospitals with former Dynamo players Craig Waibel and Stuart Holden. As Chabala returned, he developed a relationship with the patients and a thirst to do something more. Now in its third year, Bald is Beautiful – inspired by Waibel’s own bald dome – has raised more than $30,000 each year, and Chabala and Co. are committed to sustaining the program’s success.
Tuesday's event was another chance for patients to have some fun in the middle of battling a tough disease. And while raising money is the objective, the goal is to show the children that while cancer can take a lot out of you, being bald can be fun.
“I think the club has done a great job with the project and wants to make a positive impact in the community,” Chabala said. “It’s a big help, and for the game on June 11, you’ll see a lot of bald heads out there.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.