Mar 19, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
David Plogman thought that when the St. Baldrick’s head-shaving fundraiser he co-chaired kicked off Sunday, March 18, there would be about 20 people there to participate and maybe help them reach the event goal of raising $3,000. Instead, the chapel hall at St. James Episcopal Church was thronged with more than 100 people, about 70 of whom got their heads shaved and raised more than $25,000.
“It’s just crazy. I can’t believe the turnout,” Plogman said. “We started with seven people signed up, and stayed that number for two months. Then every day and every week we got more people. It’s humbling; it is so amazing.”
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a national volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. Anyone can host or create a head-shaving event to raise money for the organization.
Participants collect pledges from family and friends and agree to have their heads shaved as a visible, outward sign of the fight against all types of cancer. The money goes to St. Baldrick’s, but typically gets allocated to medical facilities local to an event.
All the money raised at the St. James event will benefit numerous children in the Central New York area by being given mostly to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.
Plogman, a St. James member who lives in Marcellus, came up with the idea to host a St. Baldrick’s event in Skaneateles after he and his sons participated in two events at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Camillus through the boys’ Boy Scout troop.
Plogman and fellow St. James member Georgia Yokum co-chaired the event – and both got their heads shaved as well.
“I hope this will become an annual event, and maybe next year move into the high school for even more space,” Yokum said.
The walls of the chapel hall at St. James were decorated with posters of children diagnosed with cancer, detailing their lives and their battle with the disease. There was food for sale at a concession stand, along with baked goods made by the women of St. James church also for sale. All money raised from those two tables also was donated to St. Baldrick’s.
“St. Baldrick’s is the number one funder of childhood cancer research, and childhood cancer research goes very underfunded,” said event announcer, Katharine Edwards, when the event began. “Every three-and-a-half minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer, and every four hours a child loses a life to cancer.”
Testimonials were given by parents whose children and families had gone through the battle with childhood cancer. Some of the phrases attendees heard during these testimonials were things like, “horror film brought to life,” “our lives were turned upside down,” and “everything changed forever for us.”
The stories were full of pain, but also hope.
Amy O’Bryan told the story of her son Andrew’s bone cancer that ultimately lost him his leg. But from the terror that her son would die, O’Bryan told of Andrew’s strength and faith, and the fact that he is now back on the basketball court with a prosthetic leg and is even the high scorer on his team.
“He is so strong; he taught me so many lessons. He taught me to never give up,” O’Bryan said.
When the head shaving commenced, some people went up individually, some went up in teams. Five members of the Morrisville State College Lacrosse team participated, as did a team of St. James church members and a team called “A teacher, a mom and a bunch of eggheads.”
The shaves were men and women, young and old. Some of the women had hair long enough that they donated it to Locks of Love or other charities that make wigs out of donated hair.
Becky Hidy, who participated along with her daughter Danae Hidy, said she decided to get her head shaved to raise money for a good cause. “But then hearing everybody speak today, it just meant a lot more,” she said. “It is nerve-wracking though, because you don’t know what your head will look like when it’s shaved.”
Other participants had similar reasons and feelings about joining in the event.
Robert Klitz, who signed up the day of the event, said, “Giving is the most important thing we can do in life, and what a wonderful thing this is we can do for a child in need. And I needed a haircut too.”
Father and daughter team Marvin and Natalie Caldwell were eager to get shaved and be part of the event.
“I’m excited because I think this will be a cool experience,” Natalie said before getting her head shaved.
Marvin said his daughter heard about the St. Baldrick’s event from a teacher at school, so he told his daughter is she did it, he would too.
Skaneateles resident Kristin Rossi, who is also a cancer survivor, attended the event not to get her head shaved but to support her friends taking part as well as the organization.
“I had cancer seven years ago, and I was always grateful it was me and not my child. To read the posters here today is just incredibly humbling,” Rossi said. “The people who choose to shave their heads are doing an incredible thing. I don’t think there’s enough words about this event.”
St. James Rector Rev. Becky Coerper said she was amazed by the turnout. “This event had phenomenal publicity and momentum built up,” she said. “Dave’s vision for this was to be a community event and it is predominantly people from our community here today.”
In addition to the more than 100 people who attended the St. Baldrick’s event, multiple local businesses also participated. Time, food and various items were donated to the event by Mark’s Pizzeria, Mid-Lakes Navigation, Doug’s Fish Fry, Tops, Town Square, and St. James Episcopal Church donated the use of the chapel hall for the event.
The head shaving was done by stylists from three salons: Bijou in Skaneateles, First Impressions from Marcellus and Indigo Salon from Auburn.
The final amount of funds raised through the St. Baldrick’s event was $26,339.53. That included the online registrants (63 people who raised $21,640), day-of registration to get shaved, all the money spent on food at the event and general donations at the event.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.