Freshman shortstop Stephen Alemais meets the clippers as his head is shaved for the Vs. Cancer Foundation on Sunday
March 23, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - Despite falling to Middle Tennessee by a score of 5-4 on Sunday afternoon at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium, the Tulane baseball program was able to do something bigger than the game of baseball for an incredible cause after the game: raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer treatment.
The Green Wave baseball program headed indoors on a windy Sunday afternoon to the James W. Wilson Jr. Center on the campus of Tulane University to have their heads shaved to raise awareness for pediatric cancer through the Vs. Cancer Foundation. The entire baseball program, including associate head coach Chad Sutter, assistant coaches Jake Gautreau and Shooter Hunt, and director of baseball operations Brian Meyer got in on the action, as did a few other Tulane Green Wave student athletes and some fans.
Family and friends of the program watched as the players' hair fell to the tarp laid down on the floor in the atrium of the Wilson Center. Donations were made throughout the event to the Tulane Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC). The group also took donations during home baseball games during the last three weeks.
When it was all said and done, the Tulane baseball program raised over $10,000 that will go to the Vs. Cancer Foundation. Half of the money will then be used to fund the research of a cure for pediatric cancer, while the other half will be donated to Ochsner Hospital's pediatric ward.
"I think the Vs. Cancer Foundation is a great organization, and this is a nice time to be able to reflect on being able to live a healthy life and play a game every day," said Sutter. "This gives us an opportunity to give back, and we are glad to be a part of it."
The founder of the Vs. Cancer Foundation is Chase Jones, the nephew of Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. Chase was an 18-year-old freshman at the University of North Carolina when he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. When his teammates on the Tar Heel baseball squad shaved their head in solidarity to honor him, he was touched.
After Chase was treated at MD Anderson in Houston, he was given a clean bill of health, and he has spent his adult life raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer. In December 2012, he founded the Vs. Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving kids' lives by empowering athletes and communities to fund lifesaving childhood cancer efforts. Chase travels around to different high schools and universities, giving athletic teams the opportunity to use their platform to raise money for a worthy cause.
Chase Jones was able to meet up with the Green Wave on their recent West Coast trip to San Francisco to hammer out the details of Sunday's events. Chase was working with the baseball programs at St. Mary's, San Francisco and Stanford on similar events in the Bay Area during his time out west.
"Working with Chase, you can definitely see the passion he has to help kids get through difficult times," said Meyer. "He's very passionate about giving back. He's seen kids in hospital rooms much younger than him, and this is something he felt he needed to do."
Last year, the Green Wave held the same event for the Vs. Cancer Foundation, raising over $10,000 dollars for Ochsner Hospital so they could build a teen room for their cancer ward.
"This is obviously an exciting opportunity for us today," said Tulane student assistant Briggs Barrios. "It's great to do this for kids who are battling so hard to beat a terrible disease. This money is going to go to Ochsner Hospital. Chase is an integral part of us getting involved in this. We've gotten to know Chase and what he has gone through to get a different perspective that kids with cancer go through."
With three chairs set up for shearing purposes, the event lasted about 45 minutes. After all 35 baseball players and their coaching staff, additional Tulane student-athletes and fans finished with their haircuts, the group posed for a picture with the stylists who made it all happen.
"This is all for a good cause, and I feel good right now," added Tulane sophomore reliever Jordan Gross.
Every year, 160,000 children worldwide are diagnosed with cancer. A majority of the programs that Chase Jones' foundation works with are collegiate baseball teams, but minor league, high school and club baseball programs have all been a part of the Vs. Cancer Foundation in the past. Chase Jones has even worked with collegiate and high school lacrosse teams, high school football teams and college soccer and crew squads, as well.
To learn more - as well as make donations - about the Vs. Cancer Foundation, visit vs-cancer.org.
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