NetApp Employee Q&A on St. Baldrick's: Learning, Inspiring, Saving Lives

St. Baldrick’s, a childhood cancer charity that funds pediatric cancer research, coordinates global head-shaving events during which volunteers go bald to stand in solidarity with kids fighting cancer and to raise money to help find a cure. This year marks the seventh consecutive year that NetApp has hosted shaving parties in support of St. Baldrick’s. NetApp 360 spoke with a few NetApp employees about St. Baldrick’s and NetApp’s association with them through the years.


What inspires you about St. Baldrick’s?


Ruth White-Cabbell, Global Alliance Communications: I’m inspired by its humble beginnings. Founded by three executives who wanted a way to give back to the community, St. Baldrick’s has grown from 19 shavees and $104,000 in donations in its first year, to over 56,000 shavees and more than $33 million in donations in 2012. It’s amazing how simple ideas can grab hold and, in this case, change the impact of childhood cancer on families.


Bill McLeer, Sales Representative:This is a group effort at its finest. Everyone works together in a concerted effort to help combat cancer. My son was diagnosed with a rare disease called Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH) at the age of 4. We are blessed that LCH isn’t technically a cancer, but we still have to go to the Oncology department for treatment. I see so many children in the Oncology department courageously going through their treatments, while keeping smiles on their faces. I’m inspired and hopeful that the research St. Baldrick’s helps fund will result in life-saving treatments for these children and countless other children diagnosed with cancer.


Kristen Fairchild, Marketing Manager: It’s inspiring that our local efforts truly have a ripple effect to help make a global impact on such an important cause. NetApp’s involvement with St. Baldrick’s exemplifies this effect. The first NetApp shaving event took place in our New York office and raised $150,000. Now, after six years, NetApp has raised over $3.4 million from shaving events around the world for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Collectively we can make a big impact!


What have you learned about childhood cancer and childhood cancer research funding from St. Baldrick’s?


RW: Worldwide, a child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes. Yet only 4% of federal funding goes toward research to find cures for childhood cancer.


BM: Pharmaceutical companies don’t consider childhood cancer drugs profitable, so they barely fund drug development for childhood cancers.


KF: Tragically, I found that one in five children diagnosed with cancer will lose their battle within five years. This is such a shocking reality; St. Baldrick’s works to fight that reality and currently funds more in childhood cancer research than any other organization except the U.S government.


How do the donations to St. Baldrick’s help make a difference?


RW: Today, about 85% of children with the most common types of cancer will live. This is because of research dedicated to curing these cancers. Funding from St. Baldrick’s is instrumental in continuing this trend for more cures.


BM: Grants for laboratory and clinical research have lead to break-through discoveries that raised the cure rate for a rare type of childhood leukemia from 20% to 70%.


KF: Of every dollar raised, 82% will be spent on research to find a cure. The impact of St. Baldrick’s funding can already be seen in the New Cure For Neuroblastoma – take that cancer!


Can you tell us what you’re looking forward to at your local NetApp St. Baldrick’s event?


RW: Seeing the freshly shaved heads of my colleagues! Seriously, though, this is a great team building experience regardless of if you are or aren’t shaving your head. It’s rare to witness such selfless acts by people you see every day.


BM: Personally, I’m looking forward to watching one of my colleagues get his head shaved!  More importantly, I’m a competitive person by nature so I’m looking forward to raising the most money at the event in New York City!


KF: Sharing our NetApp culture of volunteerism with our NetApp family, friends, customers, and partners to continue the ripple effect that St. Baldrick’s started---and seeing the bald heads of course!


Why is there so much company-wide support at NetApp for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation?


RW: NetApp has one of the most unique cultures when it comes to giving back to the community. For example, NetApp provides its employees with a Volunteer Time Off Program. This program enables employees to take 5 paid days off to volunteer at a non-profit of our choice. With a culture committed to volunteerism and making our communities better places for all, it’s easy to rally support for such a great cause like St. Baldrick’s.


BM: I tell anyone who will listen why NetApp is perennially rated one of the Great Places to Work: it’s all about the culture. This is a culture that is instilled in every facet and level within our company.  It is built upon success and giving back to the community. In fact, in FY12 NetApp charitable contributions through its cash, in-kind, and volunteer time off programs were valued at $18,061,444, the highest amount in the company’s 20-year history!


KF: We have a unique work environment where giving back is valued and often contagious.