Shear delight at McHenry St. Baldrick's event

Charity fundraiser hits a participation record

Sienna Begley, 7, of McHenry reacts to seeing her ponytail cut off at the St. Baldrick's Day McHenry Community Shave at McHenry High School West Campus on Thursday.
Sienna Begley, 7, of McHenry reacts to seeing her ponytail cut off at the St. Baldrick's Day McHenry Community Shave at McHenry High School West Campus on Thursday.

McHENRY – Ashley Hale, 11, had no regrets after getting her head shaved bald Thursday night.

“It’s for a good cause,” said Hale, a sixth-grader at McHenry Middle School. “Cancer runs in my family, and I don’t want the little kids to suffer.”

Hale was among the record number of “shavees” at McHenry High School West Campus taking part in the community’s third annual fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity that raises money for pediatric cancer research.

St. Baldrick’s participants get their heads shaved bald for donations. And some also donate their hair to other organizations, such as Locks of Love, which provide wigs for children dealing with hair loss caused by cancer treatments.

Hale held on to her 12 inches of brown hair and put it in a plastic bag to donate to Locks of Love.

Hundreds patiently stood in line waiting to get their heads shaved at McHenry High School West Campus, 4724 W. Crystal Lake Road.

Earlier this week, there were 671 people registered, and as of Thursday evening, 906 people were signed up to go bald at West Campus. Last year, 381 people participated in the community shave.

“It’s the unification of all of us that’s so important,” West Campus Principal Mike Roberts said. “The emotions that run through all of us. ... No matter what group you belong to, everybody all comes together. There’s no single event that unites our kids more than this.”

McHenry High School students are having their own “shave” event today.

In 2009, McHenry West High School students helped introduce St. Baldrick’s to the community, dedicating the first fundraiser to Jackson Grabow, a 2-year-old McHenry boy who had a rare brain tumor. He died about a month after the fundraiser. Since then, the annual event garnered wider support from various groups and businesses in McHenry.

“It’s nice to see old-time values in this modern-day age,” said John Rupp, Jackson’s grandfather, who was at the event with his daughter Donna, Jackson’s mother.

“[Cancer] affects so many people. It’s so emotional to see all this support. It gives me goosebumps,” Donna Rupp said.

Local hair salons were on hand to donate their services for the shave event. McHenry city officials, police officers and firefighters with the McHenry Township Fire Protection District also took part.

St. Baldrick’s supporters outside of McHenry also organized fundraising events. Woodstock High School held its community shave Thursday evening. Woodstock students will have their own shave event today at the high school.

In Crystal Lake, the Crystal Lake South High School’s Key Club is having its “Shavathon” today 3 to 6 p.m. in the Luecht Conference Center at McHenry County College, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake.

For more information about St. Baldrick’s, go to the foundation’s website, www.stbaldricks.org.

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