In an effort to Empower What Matters, Spark Energy has renewed its partnership and support of the Fox Chicago Schools Challenge and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. For those that may not be familiar with St. Baldrick’s, the Foundation is known for rallying volunteers to raise money by pledging to shave their heads in solidarity with children fighting cancer and has awarded millions in grants for childhood cancer research.
Spark Energy kicked off this year’s partnership with a $5,000 donation to St. Baldrick’s and a pledge to raise additional funds through a month-long giving campaign in the Chicago market. Through the campaign, we have had the privilege of meeting some of the amazing volunteers and supporters of the St. Baldrick’s organization, including Heather Kash.
Heather Kash is the Sr. Director of Corporate Relations for St. Baldrick’s and we are so inspired by her dedication to empowering what matters, we wanted you to meet her too.
A conversation with Heather Kash, Sr. Director of Corporate Relations, St. Baldrick's:
How long have you supported St. Baldrick's?
I first became involved as a St. Baldrick’s volunteer in 2002 where I ran the Downtown Chicago event. After that, my involvement grew over the years where I was managing two full-time jobs. So, in 2007 I had to make a choice between the two, and St. Baldrick’s was the better option for me!
What inspired you to support and/or work for the organization?
Like so many of our volunteers, I got involved because a coworker was shaving his head and he asked me to help with the event. Our second year, we had such tremendous support that when a Bloomingdale firefighter, Chris Wilson, called to say he was bringing 30 firemen to Chicago for my event, I was afraid of having too many shavees and worked with him to set up the 2nd Chicago area event – this one in the Western suburbs.
From there, we kept “spinning off” events and people kept coming to me for help. In 2011 in IL, we had more than 200 events, almost 9,000 shavees, and raised almost $4MM. To think that I was afraid of having 50 shavees!
Is there one story or one child that keeps you going?
There are so many kids that drive us to do what we do, but here are a few. There is a young man named Chris, who I first met when he was 10 and newly diagnosed. He never fully responded to treatment, but was always at our events, shaving heads, and flashing his 1,000 watt, “get me out of trouble” smile. We lost Chris last November, but he will always be the face of St Baldrick’s for me. Two of Chris’ friends (who he met during treatment), Josh & Alicia, are survivors. Josh is a sophomore in HS and now taller than me (even in my heels!), and lettered in golf last year! Alicia celebrated her 20th birthday with us last September at our halfway to St. Baldrick’s event, and her uncle is a good friend who had shaved for St Baldrick’s for many years before she was diagnosed.
Then there is Sara, another survivor, who was one of our Ambassador kids for the Foundation in 2010 – just a few years younger than my youngest daughter, her story hit home, particularly when I hear her mom tell stories of her and her sisters, which sound so much like the antics of my kids! Josh, Alicia and Sara will all be at our event this year, and will get to have a hand in shaving my head! Chris will be there in spirit, and deeply missed.
How can people get involved with St. Baldrick's?
Our primary fundraising vehicle will always be our signature headshaving events, but people raise money for us in many ways. We’ve had motorcycle runs, 5Ks, golf outings and other events. You can visit www.stbaldricks.org to get involved in a local event, organize your own event, or contact the Foundation with your idea!
What does it mean to St. Baldrick's to have Spark Energy's support for the second year in a row?
We are fortunate to have so many corporate partners, helping to tell our story, engage their employees and customers and support the mission to Conquer Kids’ Cancer. Like so many companies, Spark Energy’s support goes beyond a donation and it’s wonderful to see how the cause has become a part of your corporate culture, tradition and a part of the lives of your employees.
Do you have anything else you would like to add?