Rays have heads shaved to help cancer fight

Rays have heads shaved to help cancer fight

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays players, coaches, front-office personnel and fans happily agreed to have their heads shaved Saturday at Charlotte Sports Park as part of the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation's annual "Cut for a Cure" campaign.

This was the fifth consecutive year the Rays have participated in the event, which encourages contributors to shed their locks to help raise money and awareness for children battling cancer.

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For a $50 donation, Rays fans were awarded a special Rays "Cut for a Cure" cap, along with the opportunity to shave their heads alongside players like Logan Forsythe.

"This is all about doing something special for the kids, and you can just tell how much they enjoy this, enjoy having guys out here," said Forsythe, who has participated in the event in each of his three years with the Rays.

"Some of the kids are returners from previous years and they just enjoy the heck out of it -- and the hair's going to grow back -- so it's nice to put a smile on their face."

Thanks to the efforts of last year's "shavees" and their contributors, the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation's 2015 campaign raised $430,000 in donations, with the Rays generating over $20,000.

"It's huge for us to have the Rays' support," said National Pediatric Cancer Foundation chief executive David Frazier.

"The Rays have been a longtime supporter, they're excellent corporate citizens and this partnership allows us to not only reach the team but also to engage Rays fans and enlighten everybody in this fight against pediatric cancer."

Included among those Rays fans in attendance on Saturday was 3-year-old Sofia Anderson, a patient of St. Petersburg's All Children's Hospital who is now cancer-free after having been diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma in January 2015.

With a white bow adorning her curly dark hair, Anderson created quite a "buzz" as she helped shave the head of Charlotte Sports Park groundskeeper Devin Craft.

"The Rays have been so incredible with our family," said Sofia's mother, Catalina. "[Rays hitting coach] Derek Shelton is one of our very, very good friends, and he and his wife Alison have been super supportive along with Chris Archer and all of the team players. They've been amazing, so we are so happy that they are doing something for our kids who are battling awful diseases like this."

With its national headquarters in Tampa, the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding research to eliminate childhood cancer. Its focus is to find less toxic, more targeted therapies by partnering with hospitals nationwide.

Michael Kolligian is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.