35 heads shaved for the cause at West Elem.

       Thirty-five people in the West Elementary School community sported stubbled heads March 22, all in the name of curing children's cancer through the St. Baldrick's Foundation.
       The mass shaving event in the gymnasium featured three hairdressers working almost non-stop for over an hour. Most of the school community looked on, providing frequent cheers, laughter and photos.

Most of West Elementary's shavees pose for a photo at the end of the St. Baldrick's event in the gymnasium March 22. These include Principal Terry Martinez (wearing a tie), but not his dog Emmett.
Westside Pioneer photo

A few minutes earlier, Martinez had his time in the chair, courtesy of hairdresser Joanne Huddleson.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Parading into the barber chairs were 9 staff members (including West Principal Terry Martinez), 21 students, and 5 family members, each of whom had obtained individual pledges to support the cause. In the end, close to $9,000 was raised, with no single pledge higher than $100, according to teacher Anne Yenne, who led the organizing effort.
       Martinez had grown his hair long and dyed it red for the occasion. Armed with a wireless microphone, he served as narrator for the activity, including his own span in the chair, Asked afterward how the new look felt, he replied with a grin, “Airy.”
       The high spirits at the West event seemed in keeping with its origins. “St. Baldrick” is actually an invented name - a combination of “bald” and “St. Patrick's” - from 1999 when three New York residents staged the first event on a kind of dare. But by 2005 St. Baldrick's had become a legal, charitable foundation, and today its organizers say it is the world's largest volunteer fundraiser for childhood cancer research.
       Other schools in the area, including the Westside's Holmes Middle School, also had St. Baldrick's fundraisers in March, but none the size of West's, according to interviews with Martinez and Yenne.
       Started as a project for Yenne's grades 3-4 class, the fundraising effort spread throughout the school in the weeks leading up to March 22. “I set a goal of $5,000,” she said afterward, “and I thought if we got halfway there I'd be pleased. Now our money total is at just above $8,800, with people still making last minute donations on the website.”
       Other staffers pitched in, with major fundraising from counselor Shawn Hayes, whose “family has been touched by cancer,” Yenne said.
       Yenne herself used Facebook to let friends and acquaintances know about her quest. “When I reached my personal goal, I asked them to contribute to the kids,” she said.
       Also boosting the kids' pledges was a bake sale, organized by fellow teacher Ginny Beaudreau, that brought in $300.
       “It really was a community effort,” Yenne said.
       Her own inspiration came from the 12-year-old daughter of a cousin coming down with bone cancer. “It was a combination of her getting through treatment and losing her hair that I got the idea to pull this off,” Yenne said. “But I had no idea it would be on this grand of a scale.”

Students, staff and community add to the bedlam in the gym March 22
Westside Pioneer photo

       Anyone still interested in making a donation in West's behalf can go to the school's event-designated website: stbaldricks.org/events/mypage/9504/2013.

Westside Pioneer article