Brave the shave for kids

St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraiser will be held on May 18

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  • Co-chair of the St. Baldrick's event, Dave LeMay, and son Evan give it up together. Photo by Ginny Raue

According to Robert Kulawiak, the following New Jersey institutions are benefiting from the funds raised at SBF events:
St. Peter’s University Hospital
University of Medicine and Dentistry
Hackensack University Medical Center
St. Barnabas Medical Center
Atlantic Health Care System
Children’s Hospital at St. Peter’s University Hospital
Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center.


On May 18, 2014, the fourth annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation (SBF) West Milford Conquers Cancer head shaving fundraising event will take place at the West Milford Volunteer Fire Company # 4 firehouse. There will be music and food, some laughs and maybe some grimacing as the locks fall to the ground. It’s an all-around good community and family occasion. But behind the event is the profound tragedy of childhood cancer.

There are some startling statistics on the SBF web site. Among the facts is that the average years of life lost to adult cancer victims is 15 years. The average years of life lost to pediatric cancer patients is 71 years. Only 4 percent of federal funding goes to childhood cancer research. Pharmaceutical companies fund approximately 60 percent of drug development for adult cancers but very little of their resources go toward childhood cancer drugs.

St. Baldrick’s Foundation
In 1999, a St. Patrick’s Day party challenge between co-workers resulted in the idea of shaving heads for donations to be used for children with cancer. The all-volunteer event spread across the country and by 2012 they had raised $100 million. First responders and the military have been active supporters of the events, reaching as far as bases in Germany and Iraq.

The SBF states that they are dedicated to doing one thing only; “all childhood cancer research, all the time,” and they have become the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants. They provide funding to hospitals to open clinical trials, support the training of the next generation of researchers, encourage the sharing of knowledge and fund supportive care research, addressing the quality of life for patients and survivors.

When the SBF was formed in 2004, it was with specific aims: keep the cost of the event as low as possible and make sure the donations reach the best research facilities.

West Milford’s Finest and Bravest join the crusade

In 2011, West Milford Volunteer Fire Co. #4 firefighter David LeMay and West Milford police Officer Robert Kulawiak put their heads together - unshaven at the time - and West Milford’s first SBF event came into being. Over the last three years, they have raised $75,000 and hope to bring that up to $100,000. this year.

Speaking for the event, LeMay told of his own family history with childhood cancer. His nephew, now a healthy teenager, was just four years old when he was diagnosed with retinal cancer.

“I want to help whoever I can because we’ve been through the hard times. It’s a traumatic experience when you first get the news. Maybe it will help people to know that help is being sought and there are people behind them, supporting them,” he said.

Getting buzzed at the barbeque

This year, with the assistance of many volunteers and generous donors, the event will feature great music by The Harmony Brothers, a bouncy house, a tricky tray, raffles and a free barbeque. The town’s emergency services will be well represented.

“It’s growing, everyone is jumping on. Every dime we make goes right to the foundation. Everything is donated, ” LeMay said.

Chrome dome or not

Volunteer hair stylists will be busy buzzing, shavees of all ages and from all walks of life will step up and lose their locks for the SBF cause in a show of solidarity with pediatric cancer patients who often lose their hair while in treatment. Donors can either pledge a contribution to a particular shavee or to the foundation. You don’t have to go bald to help, although in this case bald is a beautiful thing to behold.

LeMay will get in the hot seat as will Evan, his 13-year-old son. He will be followed by Kulawiak and many emergency workers and caring residents - all hoping to get those dollar figures up and those life expectancy numbers to radically change.

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