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Teen raising money for cancer research

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

McDonough resident, Kipp Maddox, is on a mission to help fund childhood cancer research.

"I think it goes to a pretty good cause," he said. "I like to help people."

The 13-year-old Boy Scout shaves his head to raise money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a California-based, non-profit which helps fund research into forms of cancer that strike children. He has been growing his hair out, since August 2009, in order to have it shaved again this month.

For the past decade, volunteers with the St. Baldrick's Foundation have shaved their heads in a worldwide display of solidarity with children fighting cancer. The foundation has used the gesture in fund-raising events, which take place each year around St. Patrick's Day, as a way to raise donations to fund research grants.

Maddox has been involved in the fund-raiser since 2008, and has raised nearly $2,000 to date. This time around, he hopes to raise $1,000 by March 20, when he plans to shave his hair again. So far, this year, he said he has raised about $650.

He said he is partly motivated to help fund research, because he knows how it helps cancer patients and their families cope with and overcome the disease. Both his grandmothers had breast cancer. His twin sister, Katie Maddox, survived neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that affects developing cells within the nervous system of infants and young children.

Katie and Kipp Maddox, and members of their family, regularly take part in fund-raising efforts supporting cancer research, from St. Baldrick's to the American Cancer Society's annual Relay for Life.

"I think it's important because the money they raise is not a lot [individually], but [collectively] it helps people around the world," said Katie Maddox, who has been cancer-free for 13 years.

Katie Maddox, the first born of the twins, began nearly six months of chemotherapy as a newborn while her parents were taking care of her two brothers, newborn Kipp and 4-year-old William Maddox.

"When she was three weeks old, they started chemotherapy, and it was not fun," said Katie's mother, Laura Maddox. "She didn't keep food down very well ... and we had to do shots to rebuild her immune system. That went on until she was about six months old."

"It was pretty rough," said Katie's father, Joel Maddox. "At that time, I was running my own pharmacy, and I had a great group of people that worked for me. I was out for about a week or two with her, and she was in the hospital the whole time."

Laura Maddox said she believes her son, Kipp, is helping return those blessings bestowed upon her family 13 years ago. She said he seems sure he will reach his goal of raising $1,000 this year. He raised $750 in 2008 and $650 in 2009.

"He's very optimistic and confident," Laura Maddox said. "It's a good excuse for growing his hair out, which makes me crazy. But I think he thinks it's a fun cause to be involved in."

"If his hair is sticking out in seven different places when he goes to school, it doesn't bother him," said Joel Maddox. "He is very adamant that he doesn't want any of it cut. But I think he really wants to do it for a good cause. I'm very proud of him."

To learn more about donating, visit Kipp Maddox's donor page on the St. Baldrick's web site, at www.stbaldricks.org.