February Magazines 89014 - Page 59

Meet the Neighbor By Callie Thomas bald is always in when it comes to raising money to stamp out childhood cancer. More than 300,000 kids worldwide are diagnosed each year, and childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the United States. St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, has a mission to take childhood back from cancer. Phil Ralston and Alex Raffi will be “going bald” to raise funds for the 2018 St. Baldrick’s Event at McMullan’s Irish Pub on March 3. Ralston and Raffi raise thousands of dollars in donations and are some of the event’s top individ- ual participants. Phil is the President at American Nevada Company and this year marks his eleventh shave to benefit the organization. Like most of the participants, his involvement began with knowing a child suffering with the disease. “A good friend’s daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia at age ten. (She’s a healthy college student now.) My friend began shaving his head at the annual event, and I followed a year later,” says Ralston. “When I enter the Shenanigans room in the back of McMullan’s Irish Pub every year, it’s overwhelming to see the room packed with people. It doesn’t matter how many times I do it. When the person shaving me takes the first swipe with the razor down the mid- dle of my head, I start screaming with laughter.” year and immediately fell in love with the cause and close-knit community. Our daughter, Elli, joined me on stage in 2014 when she was ten years old—the same age as Claire when she was diag- nosed.” Ralston not only raises donations to support his shave but also helps to actively grow a team of vol- unteers called Bald by Design. “We’ve been a team for seven years, and in that time we have raised over $600,000 for the foundation. Our team is sponsored by the Nevada chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The organization’s support has resulted in recurring participation from the architecture and development community, and we’ve had shave teams of nearly 45 people,” Ralston said. So, what’s it like being bald for a cause? “Shaving my head each year isn’t a big sacrifice for me,” Raffi says. “My wife calls me Chia Pet due to my hair growing back so fast.” Ralston, who’s been mar- ried to wife Benita for almost twenty-five years and also has a daughter, Erin, concurs. “I also feel pride in our Bald by Design team knowing that for this simple inconvenience of being bald for a few months, we’re moving the needle in the fight against childhood cancer.” Giving back to the community is integral to Phil Ralston and Alex Raffi. “If you can give back, you must give back,” says Raffi, who has become friends with Brian and Lynn McMullan, owners of the Irish pub. “The passing of their young daughter to cancer inspired them to find a way to fight back and has been an inspiration for many of us in the community to help raise funds to find a cure.” For more information, or to make a donation, visit StBaldricks.org. ◆ February/March 2018 Alex is a partner and the creative director at Imagine Communications and was also intro- duced to the foundation through friends. “My wife Debi is close friends with Annelisa Polk and her husband Windom Kimsey, whose 10-year-old daughter, Claire, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2006. I learned about St. Baldrick’s when Windom and his firm at Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects created a shave team in 2008,” Raffi recalls. “We attended the event at 4V( 2&6V"BvW&R7vWBWFPVW&wB6FfGvRvBffVBFRW@ %5EU24RBt%U@S