CH's St. Baldrick's event raises more than $100,000
The Cleveland Heights Community Center was abuzz on Sunday, March 15—abuzz with generosity, kindness and courage. More than 165 men, women, boys and girls shaved their heads to raise money for St. Baldrick’s, the national foundation that funds more childhood cancer research than any other organization in the world, except the U.S. government.
This year’s local event, now in its fourth year, was held in memory of Rebecca Meyer of Cleveland Heights, who died from a brain tumor on her sixth birthday last June. It also was held in honor of Roxboro Middle School student Garrett Gulden, who recently finished cancer treatment, and Fairfax Elementary School second-grader Austin Gallagher, a two-time survivor of kidney cancer.
Shavees from Shaker schools, CH-UH schools and Gesu School, among others, competed against, and cheered on, one another during an afternoon of marathon head-shaving. Team Fairfax—25 current Fairfax students and one teacher—raised the most money, bringing in more than $32,000.
The event also featured girls and women who raised money for St. Baldrick’s, but then cut eight or more inches of hair to donate to one of several wig-making charities. At least eight girls and women took advantage of that option, and 10 opted for the full shave. Among them was 6-year-old Ruthie McFarland, who shaved in memory of her best friend, Rebecca, and was joined by her mother, Lisa Feinberg, father, Ned, and 4-year-old brother, Malcolm.
Local resident Nancy Levin said, “Cleveland Heights and University Heights are communities built on love, mutual support, caring for our struggling friends, and joining together in hope for a day when cancer will not ravage our dearest ones. This is the message we are teaching our kids!”
An emotional highlight came early in the day when two Shaker boys shaved their heads just hours before their father’s funeral. Ronan (9) and Rory (5) Feldman were joined by their sister, Shannon (7), who cut and donated her hair in a tribute to their father, Dan, a 2014 St. Baldrick’s shavee, who died due to a brain tumor.
Six-time shavee Braedan Gallagher, a fifth-grader at Fairfax Elementary School, said, “I used to feel like I couldn’t do anything about cancer. But now that I do St. Baldrick’s, I know that I’m helping to find a cure.”
His mother, event organizer Krissy Dietrich Gallagher, said that she is honored to bring this event to this community and is humbled by the enthusiastic response it has received. “My son Austin is alive today not because he was strong, which he was, and not because he was loved, which he was, but because of advances in medical research. I will keep fighting this fight until all parents can say the same thing.”
The March 15 event raised $102,000 and will continue to collect donations through the end of June. To learn more or to make a tax-deductible gift, visit www.stbaldricks.org/events/clevelandheights.
Mark Gallagher is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights and the father of two sons who attend Fairfax Elementary School. As a seven-time St. Baldrick's shavee, he is now a Knight of the Bald Table.