Monday, November 2, 2009

TKEs buzzing scalps for a cure

If you rode by UNC Charlotte's new student union today, you might have seen the brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon out front -- shaving their heads.

Don't get the wrong idea. This was no college prank. Since Oct. 1, the brothers have been raising money for pediatric cancer research at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn, the national fraternity's primary philanthropy. Their goal is to raise $5,000 by Dec. 1.

Today was the halfway point. The brothers decided to make their cause really public by setting up a makeshift barber's chair outside the Union and letting their president, Yll Mullaademi, a senior and 4th generation hair stylist from the Republic of Kosovo, shave their heads.

The gesture was more symbolic, than philanthropic. They called it: "TKEs Getting Buzzed."

"We're shaving our heads for the kids," said Sheldon Kazmarski, a senior from Charlotte. "They go through a lot, including losing their hair during treatment. We wanted to show our support."

They were able to arm-twist a dozen other students to show their support, too, by letting Mullaademi shave their heads. Several dropped a buck or two in the donation can.

One 11-year-old boy saw the brothers on early-morning TV this morning -- the head shaving started at 6 a.m. -- and had his parents drive him to campus before school to have his head shaved, too. His parents left a nice donation.

TKE is in its first semester on the UNCC campus; so they're a colony, not a chapter yet. Philanthropic work is part of their charge from the national headquarters.

"I'm personally excited about the feedback we're getting from many of the people making donations," Kazmarski said. "Many people look at us in the Greek connotations -- that we're always drinking and partying. But TKEs across the country are very serious about giving back to their communities."

By 2 p.m., Mullaademi had shaved the heads of 15 TKEs, several to the scalp -- including Kazmarski and Mullaademi himself.

"A lot of these kids lose all their hair, so I just to decided to take it all the way down," Mullaademi said. "But we're having a blast, and we are doing some good at the same time. We really believe in this cause."

The fraternity has held a raffle and the brothers have taken turns manning a table at the student union asking students passing by for donations.

"We're going to go real hard to meet our goal by Dec. 1," said Mullaademi, obviously the TKEs' official barber. "This is a pretty committed bunch of guys. If you don't believe me, just look at our shaved heads."