Firefighters go bald for a cause
HARRISON TOWNSHIP — In between long shifts at work, some members of Harrison Township Firefighters Local 1737 made their way up to the Village of Romeo on March 16 to get a new ’do and raise money for a good cause.
The group of eight men, five of whom had their heads shaved, took part in Romeo’s annual day-long St. Baldrick’s Foundation event aimed at raising money to fund childhood cancer research by asking participants to shave their heads in solidarity with children battling the disease.
The team solicited sponsorships, and while donations were still coming in last week, ended up raising just less than $4,000.
This was the first year Harrison Township’s fire department participated in St. Baldrick’s.
Firefighter Kevin DeJaeghere put together the local team because he had been involved in the fundraiser while working for five years with the Washington Township Fire Department.
“This is my first year in Harrison Township, so I thought I would recruit a team to get involved,” said DeJaeghere. “It’s a good charity and a good cause.”
And the event held in downtown Romeo each year is one of the largest in the country, which attracts thousands of people and participants and raises hundreds of thousands of dollars. This year’s event raised $257,424, just shy of its $300,000 goal. In addition to the mass head-shaving, other events held during the day included a parade, and there was food, live entertainment, and plenty of games for children.
According to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website, there were 1,308 events held across the country in 2012. The 56,281 shavers, consisting of both men and women, helped raise $33,544,803 for childhood cancer research. There were 1,203 events held this year — events are traditionally held around St. Patrick’s Day — and the 43,357 participants raised more than $18,682,000.
Donations are still being accepted.
Harrison Township firefighter Erik Evans didn’t hesitate to sign up, once he learned about what DeJaeghere was planning.
“I knew it was for a great cause,” he said. “I would do it again in a minute, and I would encourage others to get involved.”
The only setback for Evans was his 4-year-old daughter’s reaction to his shaved head.
“She started crying while I was getting my head shaved and she wouldn’t look at me after; she was hiding behind her mom,” he said with a laugh.
She’s used to the cut now, and thanks to Evans’ and DeJaeghere’s efforts, and the efforts of the entire department who participated in and/or donated to St. Baldrick’s, many children battling cancer will be helped and made to feel very special.
The children include an 8-year-old girl from Oxford battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia that the team of firefighters sponsored this year.
“We’ll get more people involved next year,” said DeJaeghere. “We want to raise more and more money for them.”
Donations to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation are still being accepted and can be made at www.st baldricks.org. To donate to Local 1737’s team, search Harrison Township on the St. Baldrick’s website.