Brave the Shave announces latest gift donations

Area children fighting cancer are receiving a boost this holiday season. A “Christmas Blitz,” organized by Brave the Shave, is paving the way for honored children to receive Christmas gifts this holiday season.

“Toward the end of each year we assess the health of the family fund after the year’s fundraising activities. Due to our community’s incredible generosity, the past few years we were able to reach out to our families and offer to help pay some of their monthly bills, so they can use that money to buy Christmas gifts for their children” says Taner Ohlsen, Brave the Shave organizer. “This year, we supported 40 families. The gratitude and relief they’ve expressed is impossible to put into words.”

The financial toll of childhood cancer is significant. Families affected by childhood cancer suffer from many stresses, outside the obvious medical fears, the financial toll forces them to cut out the “unnecessary” costs. Sadly, many times this includes the “extras” like the presents under the tree.

According to the National Children’s Cancer Society, one in five children who receives a new diagnosis of childhood cancer already lives in poverty. One in four families report losing more than 40 percent of their annual household income as a result of treatment- related work disruption. This figure doesn't account for out-of-pocket expenses. And, one in three families face other work disruptions like having to quit their job. Brave the Shave is dedicated not only to helping with the financial battles throughout their treatment, but we are also dedicated to providing a break-in-the-rain and that ever-so needed smile whenever possible.

“In North Dakota, where the bulk of treatment must take place out of town, these numbers are actually higher,” Ohlsen says.


Brave the Shave was started in 2006 in Bismarck as a means to provide financial support to families fighting childhood cancer, as well as research.

This year marked a record year, with more than $500,000 raised for the cause.

“Brave the Shave started as a singular head-shaving event to show solidarity with kids undergoing treatment,” Ohlsen says. “Since then, it has evolved into a year-round effort, with support coming from walk/runs, mud runs, silent auctions, bake sales, raffles, sports tournaments, and of course, our traditional head shaving events. Beyond that, though, the network of families born out of Brave the Shave has provided a place of invaluable support, encouragement, friendships and more. It’s truly a beautiful outcome.”

Area families impacted by children’s cancer received more than $200,000 in assistance this year. This support has paid mortgages, utility bills, vehicle payments, and bought cars, provided gas and lodging, established air purification systems in homes, and more.

“We meet the families where they are,” Ohlsen says. “In some cases families have been on the verge of losing their homes. Can you imagine having a child diagnosed with cancer and trying to navigate the medical bills as you can’t pay your mortgage? In other cases we have brought a little Holiday joy to houses that might otherwise not have had a very Merry Christmas.”

Additionally, through Brave the Shave’s partnership with the Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation, Brave the Shave has funded $300,000 of cutting edge research into ending cancer.

“There are major breakthroughs happening in the world of cancer research,” Ohlsen says. “In particular, we’re funding two research studies that focus on the same cancers that have impacted some of our honorees. We look forward to the day when we can close the book on children’s cancer.”

The two studies being funding currently are:


• CAR-T cell research at Beckman Research Institute, Duarte, CA

• High-risk neuroblastoma research at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Brave the Shave

Brave the Shave believes all kids deserve a healthy, worry-free childhood which is why we are committed to supporting the full spectrum of their cancer journey by providing assistance to the families and supporting critical research. The Brave the Shave Family Fund honors and supports more than 100 area families impacted by childhood cancer. The Family Fund, guided by our steering committee, facilitates wrap-around services and support to honoree families to help make a difference in their plight. The Family Fund serves to lessen these families’ burdens so they can focus on what’s most important – their child’s health. Brave the Shave has also partnered with the Andrew McDonough B+ “Be Positive” Foundation to support cutting edge research.

About the Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation

The B+ Foundation honors the life of 14-year-old Andrew McDonough who battled leukemia and sepsis before passing away on July 14, 2007. “B+” - “Be Positive” was Andrew’s blood type and the way he lived. In addition to funding cutting-edge research, The B+ Foundation is the largest provider of financial assistance to families of kids with cancer nationwide. Additionally, The B+ Foundation is very engaged at the federal level in advocating for increased resources for childhood cancer research. The B+ Foundation is headquartered in Wilmington, DE with an office in New York City. For more information, please visit

Kayla Henson is a former Dickinson Press reporter.
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