ILNews

Attorney will shave head in honor of son

Jennifer Nelson
February 23, 2010
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An attorney hopes people will ask her why she's bald. She's shaving her head next month to raise money for childhood cancer research.

Briget Polichene Chamness is going to shave her brown locks in celebration of the fifth anniversary of her son, Joey, being cancer free. Joey was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in January 2005 when he was eight years old. He had a year of chemotherapy at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis and surgery to remove the tumor in New York City.

Around that time, her husband learned of St. Baldrick's Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for childhood cancer research by hosting worldwide head-shaving events. The foundation funds more in childhood cancer research than any other organization except the U.S. government.

Since her son got sick, Chamness said her husband and other family members have shaved their heads, some every year. Even her teenage daughter did it once. She said she's partly shaving her head out of empathy for the young girls she saw losing their hair because of chemotherapy.

"I'm trying to think of it as my gosh, here I am a 50-year-old woman who's not sick, and I'm apprehensive for losing my hair," she said. "It makes me empathetic."

Shaving her head will also open her up to questions from strangers who don't know why she's bald. She'll be wearing headscarves and knows that when people see women who have lost their hair, it's often assumed they are sick.

"St. Baldrick's recognizes that in the case of women, and they give you a big button to wear that says "Ask me why I'm bald," she said.

To raise money for the head-shaving event, Chamness sent e-mails to her college and law school classmates, friends in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., where she worked before moving to Indiana, and professional colleagues. Chamness first worked at as chief counsel at the Indiana Department of Insurance after moving here. She later practiced at Baker & Daniels and was chief privacy officer at Conseco before joining Citigroup's government relations group, where she works as the liaison between businesses and state lobbyists.

Most people raising money for St. Baldrick's just take pledges and will shave their head no matter what, but some do say that they will only do it if they hit a certain goal. Chamness decided she'd shave her head without a specific dollar amount in mind, although she had a goal of $5,000. She's surpassed that and is up to $7,300. She's part of a team named after Joey, which has 35 people who will shave their heads. The team has raised nearly $40,000, she said.

Everyone will have their heads shaved at the same time on stage at the Northside Knights of Columbus in Indianapolis at 6:30 p.m. March 12. There will be food, beer, and a band playing as well, Chamness said.

She'd like to see more people donate to the cause because of the work St. Baldrick's does. She hopes no one has to go through what she has with her son, but because of his illness, recognizes how wonderful Riley Hospital is. Riley often receives research grants from St. Baldrick's.

"It's a great resource, and I hope that the legal community will continue to be supportive of it in various ways," she said.

Visit Chamness' team's web page, if you'd like more information about St. Baldrick's or want to donate.

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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