Gruzs Girls gear up to go bald for good cause

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Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
Norah Gruzs, 7, and her mother, Molly, are raising money for childhood cancer research. On March 16, they will have their hair cut and heads shaved to further raise awareness.

(Posted March 6, 2019)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Molly and Norah Gruzs are ready to “brave the shave.”

The mother-daughter duo from London has raised more than $7,200 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a private, non-profit organization that raises money to help find cures for childhood cancers.

To cap off their efforts, the Gruzs Girls are joining more than a dozen other fundraising teams on March 16 at Fado’s Irish Pub at Easton Town Center in Columbus for a head-shaving event. First, they will have their hair cut to be donated for use in making wigs for children who have lost their hair. Then, they will have their heads shaved.

“Our hair is really long, so we have a lot to give,” said Molly.

The decision to go beyond donating their hair to going bald was Norah’s idea. The 7-year-old St. Patrick School second-grader has donated her hair before, as has her mother. But this time around, Norah wanted to do more. A couple of months ago, she went to her mom with a proposal.

“She explained that she wanted to have her head shaved after they took as much hair as they could, and she wanted to participate in a St. Baldrick’s event,” Molly said. Norah topped off the proposal with a smile and a plea to have Molly join her. The plea worked.

St. Patrick School principal Deb Adamczak (right) presents a $2,000 check to the second-grader Norah and her mother, Molly Gruzs (center). Norah and Molly are raising money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a non-profit that funds research to find cures for childhood cancer. Students at St. Patrick donated the $2,000 through a loose change collection contest. To date, the Gruzs Girls have raised more than $7,200 for the cause. Joining them for the school check presentation are the rest of their family: dad, Liam Gruzs, and Norah’s siblings, Charlie, 4, and Matilda, 2.

The Gruzs Girls jumped right into fundraising and, in short order, surpassed their initial goal of $500. It wasn’t more than a few weeks in and they had raised $3,600. They established a new goal, $5,000, and surpassed that, too, thanks in large part to $2,000 donated through St. Patrick School’s annual Penny War.

Norah was ecstatic when she found out the school had chosen St. Baldrick’s as the beneficiary of the annual contest that challenges classes to outdo one another in collecting and donating loose change.

“I thought I was going to scream,” she said.

As for what she thinks about having her head shaved, Norah said, “It’s totally worth it.”

Cancer has touched Norah and Molly’s family in many ways. Molly’s husband, Liam, lost his mother to cancer at an early age. Molly also lost an uncle and a grandfather to cancer, and Molly, herself, has battled cancer.

In addition to having their own family members on their minds and in their hearts, Norah and Molly are thinking of other families as they go through their St. Baldrick’s journey.

Norah’s inspiration is Gavin, the brother of one of her preschool classmates, who died at age 1 as the result of cancer. Molly’s inspiration is Audrey, a teenager from Westerville who is battling brain cancer. Molly worked with Audrey’s sister and mother as a nurse at Children’s Hospital.

Thanks to the generosity of many people, the mother-daughter team has done a great job with the fundraising portion of their journey. Once their heads are shaved, their work to raise awareness will take on a new dimension.

“We will get buttons we can wear that say, ‘Ask Me Why I’m Bald.’ It’s a way to start a conversation so that we can share with people why we’re doing this,” Molly said.

Each year, 300,000 children across the planet are diagnosed with cancer. In the United States, more children die of childhood cancer than from any other disease. Two-thirds of children who are treated for cancer suffer long-term effects from their treatments. Since 2005, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation has made possible $258 million in research grant funding.

Norah and Molly are set to have their heads shaved at noon on March 16. The Brave the Shave event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fado’s Irish Pub, 4022 Townsfair Way, Columbus. Anyone is welcome to attend.

To make a donation, go to www.stbaldricks.org and search for “The Gruzs Girls”in the space next to the “Donate” button.

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