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November 1, 2010

Trader Cuts Hair for Cancer

By John D'Antona Jr.

Wayne Miller, who runs the equity trading desk at Bessemer Trust, isn't cutting his commissions these days. But he did cut his hair to raise money for pediatric cancer through the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

Wayne Miller

"I was the only one of my friends who had hair," Miller joked, recalling his decision to shave his head. "While I was driving home one night, I thought: I'd like to do this for my dad."

Miller's father passed away in June from complications related to prostate cancer.

The St. Baldrick's Foundation raises money to provide grants for pediatric cancer research. It started on March 17, 2000, when reinsurance executives Tim Kenny, John Bender and Enda McDonnell turned their industry's St. Patrick's Day party into a benefit for kids with cancer. The three planned to raise $17,000 on Sept. 17. They would recruit 17 colleagues to raise $1,000 each to have their heads shaved. Instead, the first St. Baldrick's event raised more than $104,000.

Bessemer's Miller also exceeded his expectations for his event. Through aggressive sponsorship and working the phones, Miller's first fund-raising effort raised $15,600 at his team's Sept. 18 event at the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh Club, in West Orange, N.J. Miller far exceeded his modest goal of $2,500. He attributed his fund-raising success to timing: September is National Cancer Awareness Month for several types of cancer, including prostate, gynecological and ovarian cancer, and leukemia/lymphoma.

According to its Web site, the St. Baldrick's Foundation is second only to the U.S. government in providing funds for pediatric cancer. It provided $12 million in grants in 2009.

The money has poured in fast. So far this year, St. Baldrick's has raised more than $21 million, via 37,767 head shavings at 781 events. In 2009, it raised more than $16 million through 33,003 haircuts at 630 events.

With his freshly shorn scalp, Miller is happy to show solidarity with the children he is raising money for--and also to pay tribute to his father's memory.

"I think he would be proud of me," Miller said. "I'm sure he's going to be laughing up there every time he sees my bald head."


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