For Penn baseball, it’s more than just a game.
For the past five years, the team has been working with the Vs. Cancer Foundation, shaving their heads annually in order to gain support and fundraising for childhood cancer research. Penn was one of the first schools to get involved with the organization, but the tradition has spread across the nation and positively impacted many lives.
Vs. Cancer is unique in that the funds raised by the haircuts go to both national cancer research and local hospitals. In the baseball team’s case, 50 percent of their proceeds are given to the pediatric oncology unit at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, which is just a short walk away from Penn’s campus, while the other half will be given to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.
“To be able to take those funds and direct them right to CHOP, which is right across the street, it’s a really cool opportunity for our kids to get involved,” coach John Yurkow said.
Many upperclassmen on the team can recall how this philanthropy event influenced their lives as well as the lives of their teammates.
“One of our previous captains, [2015 graduate] Ronnie Glenn, was really involved with it. He would go to CHOP and see the kids,” junior infielder Matt McGeah said.
Apart from bringing together players and children at CHOP, the event also brings together the team itself by providing them with a rallying point and a challenge that they will never forget.
“It’s not an easy thing to do,” junior first baseman Sean Phelan said, but he doesn’t believe the tradition will end anytime soon.
Vs. Cancer was founded by Chase Jones, a former baseball player at the University of North Carolina, who was diagnosed with a stage IV brain tumor his freshman year of college. The Quakers got a chance to listen to and speak with Jones, allowing them to more completely realize the benefits of their efforts.
Jones created Vs. Cancer primarily to assist in the treatment of childhood cancer but to also give athletes an opportunity to make a change in their community apart from wins and losses. Since starting the foundation, Jones and his colleagues have raised over $4.2 million thanks to contributions from teams like the Quakers.
The team is scheduled to honor its 2018 donation of $29,000 (and counting) on March 25 during its home game against Brown.
However the season turns out, the team is surely winning the admiration of Quaker fans everywhere.