Bald IS beautiful: St. Baldrick’s events raise over $500,000 for cancer awareness

<p>Felicia Allen gets a kiss from her friend and hair stylist Sandy Chapman, Yorkville, after getting all of her hair cut off for charity. Felicia Allen got her head shaved at Ballydoyle Irish Pub Sunday after she raised over $12,000 for St.<a id=Baldrick's to raise money for childhood cancer research. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media  

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Felicia Allen gets a kiss from her friend and hair stylist Sandy Chapman, Yorkville, after getting all of her hair cut off for charity. Felicia Allen got her head shaved at Ballydoyle Irish Pub Sunday after she raised over $12,000 for St.Baldrick's to raise money for childhood cancer research. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media  

You’re not imagining it. There are a whole lot more gleaming domes around town than there were a few weeks ago.

As the St. Baldrick’s season winds down, area organizations that have held recent head-shaving events as fund- and awareness-raising endeavors are counting up the donations they solicited to help fund the fight against assorted forms of cancer that target children. The numbers are still being firmed up, but at least $500,000 in new funds are now available for the cause, thanks to volunteers who offered up full heads of hair, others who buzzed them, and hundreds more who oversaw raffle donations, staffed the shave-fests, helped with publicity and other details at events in and around Naperville — and attended them.

“St. Baldrick’s went very well this year,” said Naperville firefighter Jody Jones, who has coordinated the program on behalf of the city’s public safety community since it was launched in 2005.

Ten years ago, the only St. Baldrick’s events on the western periphery of the metropolitan region were in Bloomingdale and Carpentersville. The first one in Naperville in 2005 saw more than 100 heads shaved, and raised more than $60,000. This year, proceeds from the 131 heads that were shaved came to $116,815 from the 10th annual event, Jones said — and that doesn’t include the checks written by donors, which are sent to the national St. Baldrick’s Foundation offices in Monrovia, Calif., to be tallied and deposited.

“I’m hoping it will be at least $125,000 by the time we’re done,” Jones said.

Bolingbrook’s St. Baldrick’s activities took place in morning and evening sessions March 15 at the Bolingbrook Golf Club.

“We are at $150,000 raised and both events were a big success. Over 330 shavees and over 2,000 people attended,” said co-coordinator John Sullivan in an email early this week.

Proceeds from the seventh annual event put Bolingbrook’s cumulative fundraising total at more than $1 million, Sullivan said.

Plainfield’s event again coincided with the holiday celebrations around the annual Hometown Irish Parade on March 16.

“We had a great day with over 130 shavees, 21 barbers and dozens of volunteers,” said coordinator Steve Martin, who was hoping for post-event donations as the total worked its way toward its $50,000 fundraising goal.

At Ballydoyle in Aurora, 194 heads went under the razor, yielding about $130,000 in contributions, coordinator Michael Larmon said.

And at The Kerry Piper in Willowbrook, teenager Paige Kammes had her long brown tresses shorn, raising $6,000. Along with donations collected by 114 other shavees, the pub reached the $100,000 mark, executive administrator Sophia Schneider reported.

Traci Shirk, publicity and media relations manager for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, said a total of 20 events are being held in DuPage County this year, so far yielding more than $270,000 in funds.

Naperville, a relative old-timer for the events, began hosting St. Baldrick’s fundraisers while police school resource officer Louis Jourdan’s daughter Piper was in treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma, a highly aggressive and malignant cancer of the soft tissues, and four years after firefighter Larry Ehrhart’s daughter Alexis had a cancerous kidney removed. Both little girls were 2 years old when their families heard their diagnoses, and both later went into remission.

Jones said Ehrhart has a son who had his head shaved at this year’s event, which draws up to 1,000 supporters — though she didn’t have a head count for the most recent round.

“I know that the ballroom was full,” she said.

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