Bald all around, the first 5 volunteers tip their shiny heads to the donors who raised over $22,000 to fight kids cancer at St. Baldrick's event.
In 1999, Tim Kenny challenged friends, John Bender and Enda McDonnell to find a way to give back to society. These three reinsurance executives turned their industry's St. Patrick's Day party into a benefit for kids with cancer. What could they do to really turn the heads - and the wallets - of their colleagues? John suggested shaving Enda's head since kids typically lose their hair during cancer treatment. "People will gladly pay to see you bald, Enda!" Never one to miss an opportunity, Enda replied, "I will if you will," and St. Baldrick's was born. The three planned to raise "$17,000 on the 17th," recruiting 17 colleagues to raise $1,000 each to be shorn. Instead, the first St. Baldrick's event, held on March 17, 2000, raised over $104,000! Since that time, St. Baldrick’s has become the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraising event for childhood cancer research, having raised some $17,000,000 million dollars.
Last year Ben Simonds, engineer paramedic with Central Emergencies Services (CES) decided to organize a St. Baldrick’s Day event for the Kenai Peninsula, “Children have a big place in all of our hearts and it’s become a way for public safety and fire service personal to give back to the kids of their communities by running this charitable event,” Simonds told the Dispatch. According to Simonds and his partner Soldotna Police Department Officer Tobin Brennan last year the event raised over $18,000. Saturday night at the Soldotna Sports Center a group of about 100 Firefighters, Police officers, and members of the public gathered to enjoy chili dogs and watch the 2nd Annual St. Baldrick’s shearing reaching into their pockets and checkbooks for over $22,000. “By the time the final count is complete we hope to be real near $25,000. There were three kids, a 5-year-old, a 7-year-old, and a 9-year-old who raised some $3,500 cash that night right from the audience to have their heads shaved,” said Simonds. By the end of the evening the volunteer barbers from many different salons around the Central Peninsula had sent 78 well shaven heads out into the cold Alaskan night air.
According to participants at a St. Baldrick's event, something amazing happens. People who normally shy away from the very thought of childhood cancer find themselves compelled to support this cause after looking into the face of these brave children who are smiling broadly as their friends and family members proudly display their newly shorn heads. At Saturday’s event a young mother who recently moved from Washington State to the Kenai Peninsula shared about her experience of loosing a child to cancer. She then went on to support one of the kids who volunteered to be shaven that night and raised over $300 on his own. Simonds and Brennan won’t need a haircut for awhile, but they say they are already looking forward to next year’s event. For more information about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, go to www.stbaldricks.org.
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