Heads for heroes: Braving baldness for a purpose

June 09, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Heroes

This blog was originally posted in 2020. Some information may be out of date. For the latest updates on vaccines, testing, screening, visitor policy and post-COVID support, visit EEHealth.org/coronavirus.

For the past several years, Naperville resident John Keeley and his fellow golf buddies in their 40s and 50s have teased one another for denying evidence of becoming bald, despite receding hairlines and interesting comb overs.

One friend in the group, Scott Yilk, M.D., Edward Hospital Emergency Department physician, recently shaved off all his hair — opting to replace his disappearing hairline with none whatsoever. His decision finally started to make sense for the others as well.

Keeley took the idea one step further. In addition to showing solidarity with Dr. Yilk’s newly shiny head, Keeley “spearheaded” a campaign with his buddies to go bald for a purpose beyond their own maturing hair.

They wanted to do something meaningful in honor of Edward Hospital heroes on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic: they could raise a little bit of money, while freeing themselves from attempting to style diminishing amounts of hair!

Keeley pledged to donate $100-$250 for each of his friends that sacrificed all their hair, while others generously contributed as well. The heroes of COVID-19 became the impetus behind their action to take razor to head while having fun and raising some money.

Golf and community brought these guys together many years ago, so it only seemed fitting that the White Eagle Golf Club in Naperville would be the epicenter in what has become known as the John M. Keeley I’m Not Really Bald Challenge.

Golf club members and friends graciously offered donations in support of their brave comrades to bare no hair, but especially for their community’s braver healthcare workers grappling with the COVID-19 response.

If certain fundraising markers could be met, White Eagle President John Quirk and Director of Golf Curtis Malm also agreed they would brave the shave, even with a full head of hair to lose.

When those goals had been not only reached but surpassed, the club hosted a socially distant, masked event featuring the president and golf pro as the main attraction as they allowed their comrades to buzz off their hair. Dr. Yilk did the honors for President Quirk.  

The John M. Keeley I’m Not Really Bald Challenge raised $21,700 for Edward Hospital.

Keeley shares, “We have a massive appreciation for frontline workers who are giving and risking so much. By default, the nature of their jobs placed them at the forefront — they did not ask for this but they continue to show up every day and deliver unwavering care. We wanted to help these strong and dedicated frontliners, in our small way.”

To Keeley, Dr. Yilk and all the fellow shiny-headed subjects and supporters, the impact has been far from small. Your efforts have been enormous and fill our hearts with joy and gratitude.

Edward-Elmhurst Health is incredibly grateful for the immense outpouring of support the community has offered during these unprecedented times. Learn more about donation opportunities.

Learn more about emergency care at Edward-Elmhurst Health

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