St. Baldrick’s: Darien firefighters raise more than $60K for children’s cancer research

Organizer Shane Smith of the Darien Fire Department, center, with Brody Usher, left, and Andrew Blackwell. Both are students at Saxe Middle School in New Canaan.

In their sixth annual St. Baldrick’s event Saturday, Darien fire departments and other participants raised approximately $60,000. Approximately 60 participants volunteered to have their heads shaved for the cause and the event drew about 150.

St. Baldrick’s, a fund-raiser for children’s cancer research, offers participants the opportunity to shave their heads in exchange for donations.

Last year, the event at Darien Fire Department was the third biggest in the state. The event was held at the Darien Fire Department, followed by an event at Center Street Public House.

Darien Fire Department Vice President Shane Smith first began participating in a St. Baldrick’s event in Stamford at Bradford’s in 2007. Then in 2008 and 2009, his fellow Darien firefighters began participating with him.

“The event was very successful!  It’s great to see people throughout the community come together in support for such a great cause,” Smith said.

Eventually, the event was moved to the Darien Fire Department for their own event in 2013, which evolved into all three fire departments joining the effort following.

In the first year, 27 shaved their head and raised $10,637. In just four year years, in 2017, 73 shaved their head and raised nearly 10 times for a total of $93,994.

Noroton Heights Fire Department member Kendra Fitzpatrick after her haircut.

Noroton Heights Fire Department member Kendra Fitzpatrick did double donation duty, cutting her long locks and donating them to Locks of Love, and then shaving her head for St. Baldrick’s.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-powered charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives.

The foundation funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government. St. Baldrick’s events are the largest volunteer-powered fund-raising opportunity benefiting pediatric cancer research.

The name “St. Baldrick’s” is a combination of the words “bald” and “St. Patrick’s,” since the first event was held in 2000 on March 17, which is St. Patrick’s Day.

The donation link remains open at stbaldricks.org/events/mypage/9940/2018.