BOSTON (CBS) – Back in 2007, Jeff Freedman lost his business partner, Mike Connell, to cancer.
Two years later, Freedman, co-founder and CEO of the Boston-based advertising agency Small Army, launched the nonprofit Small Army for a Cause, which raises money to fight the disease.
Every year since then the organization has held the annual fundraising event Be Bold, Be Bald!, which rallies people across the country to wear bald caps for an entire day, to show their solidarity for people fighting cancer.
“Battling cancer is tough for a million reasons,” said Freedman.
“A lot of people think losing your hair is a sign of weakness … but (people fighting cancer) have to be so brave.”
The 21-person agency has launched a national promotional campaign to motivate people to go hairless — just for one day — in this year’s Be Bold, Be Bald! event on Oct. 21.
The campaign includes pro bono ads on the MBTA and a billboard on Interstate 93 featuring Freedman’s daughter donning a bald cap.
The Wall Street Journal has also agreed to run ads.
People who want to participate can sign up at beboldbebald.org for a free bald cap.
Oct. 14 is the deadline to get a bald cap mailed to your home or business.
Participants can also create a team and raise money by getting sponsors. Donations can also be made directly through that web site.
Over the past several years, Be Bold, Be Bald! has grown and to date has raised more than $250,000.
This year, Freedman hopes to raise more than $150,000.
Last year, the shop sent out more than 2,250 bald caps and Be Bold Be Bald’s Facebook page has more than 5,000 likes.
The list of charities that benefit from the event’s fundraising efforts has also expanded.
Proceeds go to about 20 different cancer charities, and donors are able to select which charities should get their funds.
“We found that we were getting calls from small, regional charities,” said Freedman, who says that’s what made him think of the creation of Small Army for a Cause — in part — as a coping mechanism for dealing with Connell’s death.
“I think about Mike every day,” said Freedman. “It’s a way to honor him. He taught me so much.”
Businesses, schools and individuals can all sign up to go bald for a day.
Randy Cooke, who does desktop support at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, plans to rally a team of his colleagues this year to get involved in wearing bald caps on Oct. 21.
He was inspired after he saw an ad on the MBTA.
“I thought it was actually a pretty cool idea, throwing the caps on and going bald for a day,” said Cooke.
“I’ve personally lost people to cancer … plus we’re doing a ton of (cancer) research here.”
Lisa van der Pool of the Boston Business Journal reports
Last year Drew Freedman, Jeff’s brother, got creative with fundraising for Be Bold, Be Bald!
He ran a Groupon at his clinical massage, chiropractic and acupuncture company. For every $55 Groupon sold, Drew gave $10 to Small Army for Cause. He raised $20,000.
“Mike was a great guy. … He would have thought it was fantastic,” said Drew Freedman.
“He would have been right there, wearing a bald cap.”