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Be brave and shave: Brenda's fundraising journey

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Woman with glasses touches head after having it shaved
Brenda shaved her head after raising over $37,000 for the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation.

If someone asked you to be brave and shave, would you be up for the challenge? Well Brenda Baumeister was, and in her words, it was “an amazing feeling!”

Each year, the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation invites locals to participate in Bluey Days, an event where participants sign up to raise funds (a minimum of $250 each) to support the purchase of equipment for early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer in Fort St. John.

Brenda explained that this equipment is so important because “early detection is a huge piece to support people (who are going through cancer), as well as keeping them close to supports and family.”

The reward for fundraising? Participants get to shave their heads in a fun celebration event.

Going out on a high note

Brenda, a Licensed Practical Nurse for the last 32 years, 30 of which were with Northern Health, had many reasons for wanting to participate. Both of her parents, her mother-in-law, and many friends have gone through cancer. She also volunteers in her spare time as a co-facilitator for the Fort St. John Cancer Support Circles, so the issue is dear to her.

With retirement only a couple of years away, she had been thinking about doing something special to wrap up her career.

“I wanted to show that I love my community and give something back,” says Brenda.

Getting by with a little help from her friends

Brenda set out with a lofty goal of raising $1,000 for every year that she has worked for Northern Health, for a whopping $30,000. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, along with all of the restrictions on gathering and events, she had to re-evaluate her fundraising plan and hope that people would still donate.

A group of five people wearing medical masks
Brenda with her "bubble" of support, left to right Lisa Behrens, Heather Popkes, Brenda, Dean Baumeister (husband), Marlene Fouillard (sister).

Much to her surprise, the community made it happen. With the support of local sponsors, companies matching donations from their staff, and donated auction items, Brenda was able to surpass her goal and raised a grand total of $37,244.

“It was beyond my wildest dreams, from not knowing if I could hit my original goal to this,” says Brenda. “Everyone who shaved their heads that day was tremendous… and every little bit helps.”

Hospital foundations support community health

For Brenda, the amount of money wasn’t the only reason for doing what she did.

“It was knowing that you’re helping someone,” she said. “I’m very pleased that when I retire in two years, that this is what I gave. What the foundation itself does for us… in our own community… is phenomenal.”

Although she won’t be attempting another fundraiser of this size herself, she highly recommends that others get involved and give back to their community. Her fundraising tips: “Get out there, be humble, and ask for help.”

She’s looking forward to donating in the future and supporting others to reach their big fundraising goals.