By now, all Washington Nationals’ fans know who Jude Oz is. At 7-years-old last year, she was caught on camera in Colorado in a moment of sheer horror as her favorite player, Jayson Werth, was plunked at the shoulders by a pitch. It is one of those pictures that encapsulates the true spontaneous genuine emotion. Werth would be fine, and that moment led to a fan and player bond that has carried forward.
In Nationals fandom, Jude is now a fixture at Nats games played in Colorado. But she has also taken her insta-fame and put it to good use. In December, Jude volunteered to shave off her blonde locks for the St. Baldrick’s charity. She had a modest goal to raise $750, and she shot past that figure when Nats fans pushed the donations over the top and initially raised over $10,000, and they shaved her head last week. The donations are still pouring in after the fact. Jude has now passed the $12,500 mark and of course Jayson Werth and his family were in the top tier of donors in the $500-$999 tier! You can contribute here on the St. Baldrick’s site.
While Jude’s story seemed to have been covered nicely by MASN and WaPo written by Scott Allen, we were contacted by a representative of St. Baldrick’s this week to see if we were interested in writing about Jude and St. Baldrick’s. Well, yes, what an honor, and here we are.
St. Baldrick’s was founded in 1999, and the name was made up to sound saintly and their mission certainly is. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on St. Baldrick’s:
“The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a not-for-profit organization with the aim of raising funds to help find cures for children with cancer. The name of the foundation is not associated with a recognized Saint of the Catholic Church, but is founded on word play and appropriation of the title of sainthood. Volunteers sponsored by family, friends, and employers shave their heads in solidarity with children who typically lose their hair during cancer treatment in order to raise funds.”
Back in 2009, I learned what St. Baldrick’s was all about when Miss Virginia, Tara Wheeler, came with a date to Nats Park and sat in my seats. She was about to shave her head with a goal of $500,000 for St. Baldrick’s and did it. She came to some more Nats games with us and wore some over-sized caps in 90° weather while her hair was growing back.
Then in 2014, Wade Miley, who was pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks, asked us to do a camp for him to benefit St. Baldrick’s and the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Miley’s childhood friend Johnnie “Lil Man” Santangelo was recovering from brain cancer. We raised a ton of money, and you can see the photos in this article.
Baseball and charity just seem to go hand-in-hand whether it’s an equipment drive, donating tickets, or raising money for your local Little League. Jude plays softball and has that competitive drive and the love of the game.
“I used to be a 3rd baseman and switched to left field,” Jude said and it is probably no coincidence why she plays left field now.
With volunteers like Jude, you know St. Baldrick’s is continuing in the right direction. She was inspired by her uncle who just finished his last round of chemo, but Jude also lost a friend who passed away from a brain tumor at the age of just 13-years-old.
The St. Baldrick’s head shave was not a spur of the moment decision for Jude rather she volunteered for the April “shave” back in December, and it was just coincidental as Jude’s mom, Danielle Oz, told us that the St. Baldrick’s event was 2 days after the Nationals left Colorado. Jude raised more money in the St. Baldrick’s event than even the Mayor of her town which earned her a gold medal as the top fundraiser! Jude credits the last 2 days of donations prior to the “shave” to all the Nats fans, and her family is so grateful for all of the donations people made by everyone.
“I told Jayson the next time he sees me that he may not recognize me,” Jude said. “He asked why, and I told him I was getting my hair shaved off.”
When I asked her how her friends have reacted to her new-found baldness she said they didn’t recognize her at first, but she didn’t expect any of them to volunteer to get their head shaved off. It just further shows you how special Jude is to do this for charity and make such a large impact.
“Please tell Jayson thank you,” Jude said and that is how our interview finished up.
What struck me in the interview and after reviewing the audio tape was something I either heard on MASN or read in WaPo was that Jude was hoping to fly into Washington, D.C. this summer for a Nats game. Well, it turned out to be just “hope”. When I asked Jude’s father Chris Oz the date they were coming to Nats Park, Danielle wasn’t sure they could financially make it work. Chris is a hard-working police officer, and Danielle works for the town they live in. When they started to plan out a possible trip, it was a couple thousand more than they expected, and spending several thousand dollars for a cross-country trip was out of their budget.
When I sent the interview tape to Steve for review, he suggested we do a GoFundMe page and get to work on flying the family in and see who could donate anything from local transportation to sightseeing tours to hotel rooms, and of course game tickets. Andrew “Draz” Ross has already donated the game tickets right behind Jayson Werth in Section 105 for June 23rd and June 24th. Check that off the list! I made a cash donation already and will be donating a camp spot to Jude and her brother for the Trea Turner Camp. We are on our way!
Total cost for a weekend for just airfare and hotel is about $2,200 for a family of four to fly in from Colorado. NOTE: The family did not ask for this nor would they be expecting this. We volunteered this. They are aware of this now, and actually wanted to call it off. I told Chris Oz that we are a community and we did it with #NatsRide and let us see where this goes. It’s people helping people. A few hundred dollars will help towards the goal. Chris reports that his fellow police officers are giving him extra shifts at work so he can save up even more money. Good things to happen to good people so please help out with a few dollars. It doesn’t have to be much. One hundred people giving $10 is $1,000. We are that close to the goal!
And as Jude said to Jayson Werth, I say to you, thank you.