SUNSET HILLS, MO (KTVI) -Men, women and children paid to get their heads shaved Saturday at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation event at Helen Fitzgerald's. St. Baldrick’s funds research of childhood cancers.
"There is no real St. Baldrick," explained event lead treasurer Laura Wulf. "It's a fusion of 'bald' and 'St. Patrick'"
Before volunteer barbers even turned on their clippers, the local St. Baldrick's chapter blew past their fundraising goal of $400,000 on their way to $500,000. So, event chair Peggy Schneider kicked off the haircuts with an announcement.
"We are number one in the world, not number one in St. Louis, not Missouri, but the world!"
Hundreds signed up for their extreme hair appointments in advance. But, Schneider expected thousands after walk-in appointments.
"We have a lot of people that say, 'I'm shaving because I'm fortunate that I have healthy children.'"
Schneider and Wulf have both gone bald for St. Baldrick's in past.
"What is so great about this is that people -- well people -- are voluntarily losing their hair to provide that camaraderie of support to the kids who don't have a choice," Wulf explained.
But, the ladies are still waiting on assistant treasurer Kim Whoberry to make the cut.
"I really want to experience that at some point, but obviously not today. We have 464 people shaving today," she later tried to give an announcement on-stage, but had to run from Schneider and her clippers.
Fundraisers this large can come with some logistical issues like parking, which started to fill up at Helen Fitzgerald's over two hours before the first haircuts. Owner Brett Syberg said that was a good problem to have.
"Unbelieveable, the community support has been. And, it always has been," he said. "It shows how much people want to find a cure for cancer in children."
But what may be more remarkable is the support from families whose children lost their brave battles.
"He was nine years old when he died," a woman sat ready for her shaving holding a poster with her son`s picture and name, Jeremiah. "He's a great kid."
More support came from young people, known to obsess about their looks. Instead, they went bald for their friends.
"I want to honor Jeremiah," said one boy. "And, I want to add Kyle who is fighting cancer right now."
Organizers said most hair would be discarded. But if a donor's hair was long enough, it would be donated to Locks of Love. The organization makes hairpieces for children suffering hair loss from cancer treatments.
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