An RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Becomes a Bald Hero

Apr 23, 2012, 1:15 PM, Posted by


In each of the last two years, I have grown a mustache for the month of February to support teachers and their students in low-income school districts across North Carolina through the organization, DonorsChoose. With funds raised from my generous donors, 16 projects to promote health and environmental education have been supported, touching the lives of 4,943 students.


This year, for a change of pace (and honoring my family’s humorous pleas for no more mustaches!), I volunteered to shave my head on April 21st with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. I'm doing it to stand in solidarity with kids fighting cancer, but more importantly, to raise money to find cures. I do this in honor of the children I've cared for in the past at St. Jude's and in honor of my other formerly-bald hero, my Mom... now many years cancer free.

I set a goal to raise $1,000, and donations from family, friends, colleagues and students began to come in steadily. What happened next was unexpected and thrilling.

On April 12th, with $10 to go to reach my goal, I sent a message to the students, faculty and staff at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Nursing to ask who would be the one to give the last $10 so I would reach my goal. Within seven minutes, I met my goal! Within 10 minutes, I surpassed it. Before long, I had surpassed it by more than $250 dollars.

"I told him never to underestimate the power of nurses. Just think of what we can do when we come together for the greater good."

So I revised my goal to $1,500 and let everyone know that…and I passed that new goal within one hour. Then I revised my goal to $2,000, and still the donations kept coming. Right now, I have raised more than $3,500 to help kids with cancer and support research to find cures. While many friends and family have donated, the majority of it has come from my school’s students, staff, and faculty. I was told by the event organizer that people in the UNC Athletic Department keep asking who this Eric Hodges is who’s collecting so much. I told him never to underestimate the power of nurses. Just think of what we can do when we come together for the greater good.

I am constantly humbled by the generosity of those around me to support good causes. If something as silly as growing a mustache to support the poor, or shaving my head in solidarity with children who have lost theirs to chemotherapy, can have this kind of impact, I’m in.

Read more about Hodges’ work with St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

Learn more about the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.