Genoans lose locks to save lives |

Genoans lose locks to save lives

by Susie Vasquez

Genoa resident Christy Smith and her husband, ex-commissioner Tim Smith, will shave their heads today for St. Baldrick’s Day. The international effort raises awareness and funding for childhood cancer research, the No. 1 killer of children in this country.

The Smiths’ 8-year-old grandson, Bailey Johnson, has been fighting neuroblastoma, a cancer that affects nerve cells in children and infants, for most of his life, Christy Smith said.

“I would be willing to give up my life for my grandchild,” she said. “Giving up my hair is easy.

“It means a lot to me, to be in solidarity with him,” she said.

Bailey, who is now cancer free, will also shed his locks during the event, 5 p.m. today at The Stadium Sports and Fitness Club in Reno.

“Bailey’s problems started when he was 9 months old and it devastated everyone in the family,” Christy Smith said. “It had a huge impact on his parents and a very great impact on his grandparents as well.

“We had to watch our daughter and son-in-law suffer so it was a double blow for us. It changes your life and perspective on what is important. Our goal is to do what it takes to find a cure, so other children don’t have to go through this.”

Each year about 2,300 children and teenagers die of cancer, more than from any other disease. Another 11,000 are diagnosed with cancer, according to the University of San Francisco Medical Center in San Francisco, Calif.

Bailey, who has had 7 years of chemotherapy, more than 30 surgeries, radiation and a bone marrow and stem cell transplant, is a very empathetic child, Christy Smith said.

“He’s an amazing child and I’m not just saying that because I’m his grandmother,” she said. “He feels a strong bond with children that are sick. He has a special gift to give and we’ve seen that over and over again with other children. Some have passed on, but they leave a huge mark in this world.”

Bailey has determination, fighting spirit and a love of people, Christy Smith said.

“That gives people a new perspective about what’s important,” she said. “It’s really all about love.”

Together with family and friends, the Smith’s 15-member team has gathered $10,000 for shaving their heads and more is expected before the event is over, Christy Smith said.

St. Baldrick’s began as a casual conversation between friends in 2000 and has exploded into the world’s biggest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer. Events have taken place in 10 countries and 42 states in this country, raising over $20 million, and shaving more than 26,000 heads.

The money helps research efforts at top medical centers like the University of California in Los Angeles, The Children’s Hospital in Boston and Oakland Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Calif.

— Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.