While waiting to have her head shaved inside Jarvis High School gymnasium on Sunday afternoon, Shannon Stewart talked about having her 32-inch, brunette locks cut off for the school’s first St. Baldrick’s event.
“Not at all,” she said, when asked if she was nervous about it.
Stewart, who coordinated the event, and her mother were among a total of six women to have their head shaved, along with 10 males. Stylists from Bella Damas by Renee, in Ilion, cut and shaved the participants. An estimated $4,000 had been raised both from the event and online.
Vicki Judd, one of the organizers for the event, said she wished the turnout was higher, but was glad they surpassed their goal of $1,400.
“It went great because of the shavees,” she said during a telephone interview on Monday.
Judd said she was particularly touched by the number of women participating.
“It was amazing, very powerful and emotional. Their families came out and their friends came out,” she said.
Stewart said holding a St. Baldrick’s event had been something she had wanted to do for awhile.
“I just never had a personal reason to do it,” she said.
Her reason came in May 2011 when Gracie Lawton — the daughter of friends Geoff and Lisa Lawton — was diagnosed with having a malignant rhabdoid tumor.
“It was the first time I had ever heard someone I knew was diagnosed with cancer,” she said. Stewart said she remembered having a feeling of “helplessness” knowing that Gracie had cancer.
In January, Gracie passed away from her battle. The family has since set up a website called www.amazinggraciesgift.com, whose goals include “providing monetary donations to families of children with cancer and/or terminal illness who are in need of financial support and to donate funds to the Ronald McDonald House in Albany to create a room in Gracie’s name.” It is also to “provide gifts that will help make memories, specifically helping to create everlasting memories to families with children under the age of 2 1/2 with cancer and/or a terminal illness.”
Several of the shavees participating in the event were part of the team Amazing Gracie, including her father Geoffrey.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, according to its website, is a volunteer-driven charity that funds childhood cancer research grants. It stated that 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year worldwide. Cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the United States and Canada.
In 2012, $30 million has been raised for research through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, with nearly 47,000 male shavees and over 6,000 female shavees between 1,264 events.
Those who had locks long enough also had their hair cut for the Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program. Alyson Yoder, formerly of Ilion, traveled from the Albany area to have 12 inches of hair cut off for the event. She smiled as she held up her locks, shortly after having them snipped off.
Page 2 of 2 - “This is the perfect opportunity to help out,” she said.