Everyday morning in March, Devlin Gray wakes up and puts on a green shirt, jacket and pants.
Gray then adds an orange beard, a black pot and a ridiculously big floppy hat to the mix.
He’s a leprechaun.
Gray, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences and an Evan’s Scholar, is trying to increase awareness of St. Baldrick’s Day at the Evan’s Scholar’s house. Baldrick’s, a combination of the words “bald” and “Patrick,” is an event held across the country around the holiday that raises money for children with cancer.
Gray has personal experiences related to cancer. He is a survivor of Acute Myeloid Leukemia after his brother donated bone marrow for him. And his cousin, who passed away from cancer, is his prime motivation for raising awareness about children with the disease.
The Evans house is the only organization in Milwaukee hosting such an event, which began in March 2000 when three Boston insurance executives turned their industry’s St. Patrick’s Day party into a head-shaving event to benefit children with cancer.
The predetermined goal was to have their 20 “shavee” recruits raise $17,000 on the 17th. They surpassed their goal, raising more than $104,000, according to the foundation’s website.
The St. Baldrick’s Day mission soon grew into the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer research. Today, the foundation funds more childhood cancer research grants than any other organization except the U.S. government.
Over the past 11 years, more than 147,000 volunteers, including 12,000 women, have joined in shaving their heads and raising more than $90 million for life-saving research.
Gray himself has raised more than $700 on his mission to increase cancer awareness.
“Another housemate, Kevin Scott, suggested (last year) that we start campaigning, and I jumped in and decided to help,” he said.
Gray owns numerous costumes and decided his leprechaun one was a perfect match.
Tom Loftus, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, is the treasurer of the fundraiser and sees a lot of promise in this weekend’s event.
“We are all coming together as a house and community, and I think this (is) going to have a great turnout,” Loftus said. “Everything we are doing is for a great cause, and I’m glad I am a part of it.”
Last year, the scholars obliterated their initial goal of $3,000, raising more than $10,000.
“We have free food and drinks; hopefully we will be outside enjoying the weather and have a lot of walk-ins,” Gray said. “You can purchase one of our t-shirts too, or simply donate. You don’t have to shave your head to be a part of this cause.”
Marquette students and Milwaukee residents who volunteer to shave their head will have their haircut at the Evans house on Saturday. People are welcome to register and donate online at stbaldricks.org and sign up for the Milwaukee location and join the team.
And of course, Gray is carrying a pot around campus to collect donations. While a month may be a long time to dress like a leprechaun, Gray has no regrets.
“It’s something worth fighting for,” he said.