Rocky Fork Enterprise

St. Baldrick's Foundation

Central Ohio teachers, residents shave heads for cancer research

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Several central Ohio residents shaved their heads Sunday, Nov. 24 to raise money for childhood cancer research.

The St. Baldrick's Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, played host to one of its signature head-shaving events at Fado Irish Pub at Easton.

Since 2005, St. Baldrick's has awarded more than $125 million to support lifesaving research, making the foundation one of the largest private benefactors of childhood cancer research grants.

Among those who shaved their heads were Gahanna couples Harry and Sarah Gee and James and Lisa Tappan, as well as Pickerington's Jonathan McCombs. Others under the razor were Kelsy Morrison, Mariah Harris and Blake Glatley.

Harry Gee, an English teacher at Reynoldsburg High School, allowed his students and colleagues to snip his hair for a $10 donation Nov. 22, prior to the shave at Fado.

Pickerington resident Christina Day, a Southwood Elementary School teacher in the Columbus City Schools, also had her head shaved Nov. 22. Southwood students and staff members donated more than $800 to the cause.

Traci Shirk, St. Baldrick's spokesperson, said more than 58,000 people have shaved their heads this year at more than 1,400 events organized in cities across the country and around the world. Of those who were shaved, more than 8,000 were women, she said.

Last weekend's event was coordinated by Gahanna-based Sarah Gee Photography as part of Gee's fall seasons-of-giving initiative.

Ten percent of each photography-session fee is donated to a particular charity or organization each season.

This year, her business donated $450 to Tristan's Troopers, a local effort to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and $405 for Pelotonia.

Sarah Gee said Sunday's St. Baldrick's event marked the grand finale for this year's cancer research donations that raised more than $1,000.

Prior to the shave, Gee's hair reached halfway down her back. She donated her locks to Wigs for Kids.

Gee said she started seasons of giving as a way to give back to others.

"For me, this came out of when we brought our daughter home from China," she said. "She was almost 2 years old. When we were in the process of bringing her home, the agency fees were expensive."

She said Karen Reider, the former owner of the Firefly Play Cafe in Clintonville, had held a fundraiser for her.

"It was just amazing," Gee said. "I didn't know her. She was a stranger who helped us bring our daughter home. I was a teacher before starting a photography business. Teaching is giving back; photography isn't so much. This year has been all about cancer. It's a tribute back to Karen."

The honored child for the head-shaving event was 1-year-old Gavin Thomas Cole of Powell. Gavin has a rare type of brain cancer known as atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT).

He had a surgery that removed 97 percent of the tumor July 13, but because of the kind of cancer, his prognosis is grim: an estimated six months to live.

More about Gavin and his battle is on Facebook at Gifts 4 Gavin.

Worldwide, a child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes, and one in five children diagnosed in the United States will not survive, according to information on the St. Baldrick's Foundation's website. With only 4 percent of all federal cancer research funding dedicated to pediatric cancer research, St. Baldrick's Foundation volunteers, supporters and donors are needed to continue the battle against this devastating disease.

Funds that are awarded enable hundreds of local institutions to participate in national pediatric cancer clinical trials.

For more information about the St. Baldrick's Foundation, call 1-888-899-BALD or visit StBaldricks.org.

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