Bald heads raise funds to fight cancer

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MANCHESTER — While there were moments of heart-wrenching pain and sadness, and plenty of laughter and silliness, the fifth-annual St. Baldrick's event at Manchester Elementary Middle School was inspirational from the first snip.

More than three dozen people walked into the MEMS gym Monday with full heads of hair — some more than others — but walked out rocking bald heads and the pride of knowing they had raised a lot of money to fight childhood cancer.

While some were doing it for the first time, many of them were having their head shaved for the third, fourth or even a fifth time.

Students and adults cheered as fellow MEMS students, parents, community members, even Paula Matteson who sits at the front desk at MEMS' front door, sat as the clippers rendered them bald with hair piling up on the gym floor.

With a fundraising goal of $15,000, that number was crushed. As of press time, more than $21,500 had been raised.

But the stories of why they chose to lose their locks brought many to tears.

They told stories of friends and relatives who were fighting the dreadful disease while others shared stories of those who had lost the fight.

Tears flowed as stories were read but when the clippers came to life, the gym filled with cheers of support and big smiles replaced the tears.

Friends, family members and community icons — young and old — took their turn as a dozen area hair care professionals who volunteered their services separated them from their hair.

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MEMS students were overcome by the spectacle, spilling out of the bleachers and gathering ever closer to the action to congratulate and celebrate their friends braveness as they walked away rubbing their newly bald domes.

But there were moments that brought the gym to silence.

Like when event founder, organizer and emcee Anna Nicholson read the story about Sam Johnson, owner of Sam's Wood Fired Pizza, whose son, also named Sam, has been battling brain tumors.

Tears flowed down Johnson's face before hugs cushioned the pain. Moments later Johnson was the loudest cheerleader for another participant.

MEMS student Lucy Pinkus gave up her hair in honor of one grandmother whose breast cancer is in remission and for her other grandmother who lost the battle to endometrial cancer.

Others were moved by the fight against cancer to do anything to raise a few dollars.

Bruce MacDonald lives in Brooklyn but is good friends with organizer Nicholson's family. After listening to her stories, he came to Manchester to have his brilliant gray mane shaved off and also became the event's leading fundraiser, bringing in $7,300.

If you'd like to add to the $21,500 total, more information can be found at https://www.stbaldricks.org/events/MEMS2019

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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