Good and evil set aside differences at St. Baldrick’s: Firefighters and storm troopers join forces to save lives

Rebecca Coleman / Sun Star Reporter
March 22, 2011

Ten fire departments, a band of storm troopers, and many supportive community members gathered together March 19 to support children’s cancer research through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation at Pioneer Park. More than 120 people volunteered to have their heads shaved by volunteers from Elements and Dimensions salons after gathering pledges. Throughout Alaska, nine St. Baldrick’s events took place. About $25,600 was raised by the Fairbanks event.

Every year, the Fairbanks event is organized by the Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society (FOOLS), said Justin Boddy, the event coordinator. FOOLS is the collaboration of Fairbanks firefighters. In the past six years, Fairbanks’ St. Baldrick’s has raised more than $205,000.

The UAF Fire Department was well represented. About 15 members of the department participated, according to firefighter senior Josh Novinska. He said they raised about $4,000 as a team. “It’s a fun opportunity to raise money,” Novinska said. He has taken part in St. Baldrick’s for the past five years.

“It’s a tradition,” said firefighter sophomore Cameron McKay. “Firefighters help people and this is a great opportunity to help childhood cancer.” McKay has a few family members who have passed away from cancer. He said that they are a big part of his motivation to shave his head at St. Baldrick’s. “It’s a rare occurrence,” he said about the frequency of his head being shaved. “But it’s for a good cause.”

In addition to firefighters, there was a group of storm troopers from the 501st Legion, an international costume club that depicts the bad guys from “Star Wars.” The organization takes part in several charity events every year. One of their members, William Scott, 32, decided to donate his mid-back-length hair to Locks of Love at this year’s St. Baldrick’s. Scott came to his current situation as a now-bald storm trooper when he originally just wanted a storm trooper suit. He found out about the 501st Legion and thought that everything they did for charity “sounded awesome.” As for his hair, he had planned to cut it off at some point when he heard about St. Baldrick’s and that his landlord’s daughter was a cancer survivor. He thought St. Baldrick’s was a great cause, so he waited until the event to say goodbye to his blond locks. He and his team raised $2,000.

Many other people stepped up to shave their heads in support of children’s cancer research, including friends, community members, and a handful of children. In addition to head shaving, there were many donations to Locks of Love. One commentator mentioned that this was the most Locks of Love donations he had seen at a St. Baldrick’s event.

St. Baldrick’s originally began on St. Patrick’s Day in 2000 as a challenge among a few friends who pledged to raise “$17,000 by the 17th,” according to their website. Since then, St. Baldrick’s has raised more than $95 million, becoming the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer research.

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