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St. Baldrick's shavees bare it all

Middle schoolers on the Bryce the Brave team, Aaron Young, Ben Beaudet, and their fellow classmate say goodbye to their mounds of hair in support of a friend. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
June 09, 2010
Nineteen teams and well over 100 spectators crowded into the Gilford Youth Center last Saturday, with shavees dressed in green and ready to say goodbye to their precious locks for the sake of progressing childhood cancer research.

Throughout St. Baldrick's Day, a fundraising effort tied to the international St. Baldrick's Foundation, town departments, businesses, and families from all over the region came to support the cure for childhood cancer and managed to top their target goal of $50,000.

This is the international organization's 10th year, and the seventh year for the event in Gilford, which has managed to raise over a quarter million dollars altogether.

The Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire and Connecticut Pipes and Drums band performance helped kick off the day of events, which included bone marrow drive registrations and Locks of Love donations.

Pediatric Oncologist of Dartmouth Hitchcock, Dr. Jack Van Hoff, was honored as guest speaker for the day and has worked closely with families and young patients in the region battling illnesses such as leukemia.

"Acute promyelocytic leukemia is approaching a point in medicine where 90 percent of children who get it will be survivors. The death rate has decreased by half of what it used to be, and leukemia one third of what it used to be," said Van Hoff. "St. Baldrick's is a premiere organization for childhood cancer."

Prior to the St. Baldrick's Foundation's establishment, Van Hoff explained that support for childhood cancer research came from federal government alone, but now fellows are being funded for training in the field through the support of the foundation.

Over the past 10 years, St. Baldrick's has managed to raise $20 million through community events such as the one held in Gilford last Saturday.

"St. Baldrick's dollars come from the community and ordinary people who raise money to shave their heads; they are really helping childhood cancer," said Van Hoff.

Chief John Beland of Gilford Fire Rescue has been a longtime supporter of St. Baldrick's Day and the Lakes Region's annual fundraiser, and he thanked members of the community and members of emergency services, who form teams to shave their heads on a yearly basis.

"In my seven years of getting to know kids with cancer, I've realized, these kids are the people that are truly courageous," said Beland.

Jane and Peter Ellis of Stonegate Vineyards of Gilford formed one of the 19 representing teams from the region and proudly named their team the Bald Neighbors. This will be Peter Ellis's second time shaving.

The Ellis's daughter and member of the St. Baldrick's committee, Corey Gately, was part of their team and said she chose to shave this year after shaving for the first time four years ago.

"My husband, brother, and nephew are here as well. We have three generations shaving," said Gately. "I started going to this since we had my third child in the hospital at birth (at Dartmouth) and saw what other children and families were going through. When we left with a healthy baby, we said we could help."

The Gilford Fire Department has formed a team every year and brought some friends along, including members of the Moultonboro and Dover Fire Departments.

Shawn Croteau, Matt Michaud, Dale Spainhower, his young nephew Jacob Spainhower, and Frank Avillino all represented the Dover Fire Department, with many members coming back for a third shaving.

Ten-year-old Spainhower said he wanted to shave his head for a friend on his hockey team, while Croteau explained that he has ties to the Gilford Department and decided to support his local departments and its families that have lost loved ones to cancer.

"We became more involved. It's just to be supportive and raise money," said Croteau.

Brooke Perez of Belmont has sat on the St. Baldrick's board for two years.

"I decided to shave my head for the first time this year. It feels different, but it's for a great cause," said Perez, who brought along 1-year-old Jordan White and his mother Joclyn Laflam of Belmont to shave their heads as well.

Rob McAfee, owner of Brother Dave Builders in the Newfound Lake area, brought his daughter and some of his crew for his seventh year at St. Baldrick's. He planned to have his head shaved in honor of his brother.

"I named my business after my brother Dave, who died. He was 18 when he was diagnosed with melanoma," said McAfee.

He said he helps run a pre-event in Campton as well and managed to raise $5,000 during that event, and raised $4,100 for last year's St. Baldrick's.

McAfee is also on the board of directors for the cancer support organization, Keeping You, Me, and Memories alive, in central New Hampshire.

Other local supporters included Dr. Mike Ware and the Tilton Veterinarian Clinic and the Gilford Middle School team, Bryce the Brave, comprised of over 30 members.

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