FarmHouse goes bald to support local family


Clumps of hair fell to the ground as men from the FarmHouse Fraternity shaved their heads at the Totally Baldacious event, raising more than $10,000.

On April 7, 21 men of FarmHouse volunteered to shave their heads and raise money  for Ben Sahr, a 10-year-old boy diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma from Volga, South Dakota.

The event drew a crowd of about 100 people, primarily students, but community members were also in attendance. 

Along with members shaving their heads and raising money, the fraternity also auctioned off people to get their heads shaved by the highest bidder. Among the people auctioned off was the South Dakota State FarmHouse Chapter President Trevor Hansen. An SDSU Jackrabbits jersey was also auctioned off at the end.

Hansen was auctioned off for around $400, but the Jackrabbits jersey alone raised almost $1,500. 

Paul Sitter, the FarmHouse philanthropy chair, said although there wasn’t really a set goal of how much they wanted to raise, they hoped to get around $11,000. This was the amount FarmHouse was able to raise for last year’s recipient of the proceeds from Totally Baldacious, Ellie Loehr.

Though $11,000 was a previous amount to gauge success by, Sitter also put it into perspective.

“Whatever we can get can help a family out,” Sitter said.

Hansen said there was a minimum they promised to reach of $2,500, however, both Sitter and Hansen agreed they would have viewed it as a failure if they did not exceed that amount.

“We really want to help the Brookings community,” Hansen said. “That’s what we really want to do and keep it local. A lot of the fundraising is from around the Brookings community.”

Part of the reason FarmHouse started doing Totally Baldacious was because it allowed fraternity members to give back and to connect to the community on a more personal level, Hansen said. The fraternity continues to keep in touch with Ellie, and they recently sent her a happy birthday video from all the members.

Sitter said they were also able to spend time with Ben the weekend before Totally Baldacious took place as well. 

“Ben is a strong little kid, he’s very impressive,” Hansen said. “He’s tougher than a lot of people, probably tougher than most people I know.”

Jacquelyn Pajl, a freshman animal science major, attended the event to show support.

“I liked how willing they all were to shave their heads,” Pajl said. “I thought there would only be a few, but there were a lot of them. It was really inspiring.”

Dennisen Nelson, a sophomore dairy production and animal science double major and member of FarmHouse, said it’s a great opportunity to help the community and help a boy who could use the support.

“It’s really different and weird,” Nelson said about having a shaved head. “But it’s for a great cause, so I love doing it, and I fully intend to do it again next year.”

Although Ben was unable to attend the event, Ben’s father, Paul Sahr, made an appearance at Totally Baldacious. Sahr’s family wished to refrain from comment, however. Paul Sahr gave a brief speech at the end of the event.

Sahr said accepting the proceeds from the charity was a difficult decision for him and his family because the way he was raised was to “stand on your own two feet and [not] take handouts.”

“One of the hardest things I’ve learned is people want to help you,” Sahr said. “And it’s OK to accept that help.”

Sitter said he hopes members of the fraternity are inspired to continue this as an annual charity event in the future. Both Sitter and Hansen said they feel like all the hard work of making Totally Baldacious happen was worth it.

Hansen said it was easier to deal with the embarrassment and weird looks from shaving his head because it was for a good cause, and he was doing it to help someone out.

“A few hours of service can do a whole lot of difference in a person’s life, it doesn’t take a whole lot,” Hansen said. “We say we’re busy, but at times, some of those things that keep us busy aren’t necessarily as important as we think they are.”

Though Totally Baldacious was a way to raise money for the Sahr family, Sitter said it’s more than that. 

“I hope they realize they have support with us,” Sitter said. “Not just monetary, but emotional support.”