St. Baldrick’s event raises nearly $5,000

Aug. 25, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

Over the course of the last few weeks, people paid local elementary school student Micah Holloway more than $200 to shave his head.

It’s not that the boy’s haircut was hard on the eyes; he was raising money for cancer research. And at 9 years old, Micah’s an old pro. It’s his seventh year shaving his head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity focused on childhood cancer.

About 20 people pre-registered to come out the Stanley McLeod Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5631 in Sanford as of 1 p.m. Saturday, when the hair clippers buzzed to life. And Magda Holloway — Micah’s mom and organizer of this year’s event — said even more people dropped by as the day went on.

She said preparations for Saturday’s event only started a few months ago, when she and others in the community who generally participate in the local events realized that there was nothing in the works. Despite the relatively last-minute start, Holloway said, the group raised about $4,700 Saturday while shaving 27 people’s heads.

It’s just a small part of the $32.3 million the charity says it has raised so far this year from similar events around the world, in which more than 57,000 people have been shaved. But as important as money is, Holloway said, it’s also about showing solidarity and raising awareness.

Holloway’s family were some of the first locals to get involved with St. Baldrick’s, which first came to Sanford in 2007.

“There was a child about my son’s age (3 years old at the time) who had cancer,” she said. “... We wanted to honor him.”

It was started locally by a group of firefighters; appropriately, most of the people at Saturday’s event were first responders themselves. Micah was the first person to jump up into one of the barber’s chairs Saturday, but Sanford Fire Department Battalion Commander Scott Knuth wasn’t far behind. He was one of the ones who brought the charity to Sanford in the first place.

“We were just kind of looking for something to do, and talked to some firefighters in Raleigh who told us about this,” Knuth said. “... It’s a great cause.”

While he was answering questions, Knuth was also getting shaved by Deborah Moria, a stylist with Illusions Beauty Salon and Barber Shop who said she has been involved with St. Baldrick’s events in Sanford since 2008.

“My friend Tony is a three-time survivor, and he got me involved,” Moria said.

That friend, Tony Chilton, was one of the childhood cancer patients who St. Baldrick’s raises money and awareness for, Moria said. He now works with the group and usually puts on a similar event somewhere in Lee County, although Moria said Chilton took this year off.

“But he’s already getting next year’s set up,” she said.

According to its website, St. Baldrick’s has raised $125.3 million since 2005, granting more money to childhood cancer research than any group except the U.S. government. This summer, it announced a fresh round of grants, totaling $22 million for projects in every continent other than Antarctica.

People who want to donate or learn more can visit www.stbaldricks.org.