GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — On Friday afternoon, people from East Carolina University’s Health Sciences gathered to continue the fight against pediatric cancer in the 5th annual Pirates Versus Cancer fundraiser.

Faculty, students and staff gathered on the Brody School of Medicine’s campus to say “goodbye” to their own hair and donate it to a child in need. The chopped off locks are sent to the UNC School of the Arts wig-making program. From there, it is made into new wigs for cancer patients undergoing treatments.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 10,500 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2021. Childhood cancer rates have been rising slightly for the past few decades.

This annual event, organized by ECU health sciences students, will raise funds for child life programs at Vidant Medical Center. They are doing so in an effort to stand in solidarity with the families impacted by pediatric cancer.

After COVID-19 shut down the event in 2020, students are excited to make an impact. First-year medical student and president of Pirates Versus Cancer, Alex Doherty, said it’s a way she can give back to the many families that have inspired her.

“I went to undergrad at ECU and was heavily involved with the pediatric oncology unit there,” said Doherty. “I grew really close with the patients and the families there. They are just so strong and have always had a positive outlook on life and really inspired me.”

Pirates Versus Cancer has raised nearly $11,000 so far towards their goal if $15,000. All of the proceeds will go directly to the Pediatric Oncology Unit at the James and Connie Maynard’s Children’s Hospital.

You can donate to help a local child in need by visiting the Pirates Vs. Cancer JustGiving page or by clicking here.

The fundraising efforts will continue through June 4.