PHOTOS: St. Baldrick’s — Darien firefighters raise money to fight childhood cancer

Ethan Lublin, 11, of Darien, was the highest fundraiser for the second year in a row at the Darien firefighters’ St. Baldrick’s event — ALL PHOTOS — Jarret Liotta/Hearst Connecticut Media

“My friend last year was diagnosed with leukemia,” explained Ethan Lublin, 11, of Darien, who for a second year in a row was the leading fundraiser at the Darien firefighters’ annual St. Baldrick’s event, held Saturday evening at the Noroton Heights Firehouse.

Volunteer Zach Napolitano of Vlas’s Barbershop in Darien, does his work on Rob Monroe of Greenwich.

“She’s doing much better,” he’s happy to report, but he was still frustrated by her illness.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” he said.

Yet thanks to Ethan and many other giving participants, funds to put toward research to cure childhood cancers were raised through the shaving of heads.

Matt McAvoy of Darien and his son, Jack, 9, celebrate their cuts, as Susanne and Jack’s twin sister Christian look on.

“People here are so generous,” Ethan said of his town, which helped him raise close to $10,000 this year, following almost $13,00 last year. “It’s a satisfying feeling.

Around 50 people put themselves under the clippers for the cause, cheered on by a roomful of friends and family, who filmed and photographed with smiles.

Juan Vega of Wilton and his son Johnny, 6, get their heads shaved together in honor of the son and brother, Jacob, whom they lost to cancer at age 16 just over two years ago.

“It’s a good thing for the fire departments to get together and do something positive to bring the community together,” said Firefighter Shane Smith, who coordinated the event, which has been held at other town firehouses in its seven-year history.

While he had had his head shaved in general support years ago, when Firefighter Brook West’s niece got leukemia, it brought the spirit and severity of the cause to another level.

“It’s probably one of the most helpless feelings that me and my family ever had,” he said through tears. “It struck home and (gave) a whole new reason to do this.”

The crowd laughs with and cheers for Ryan Plank, 15, of Darien, while he gets his cut.

Others took part for different sorts of personal reasons.

“I’ve had some health issues in the past and I respect what all these children have to go through,” said Eamonn Redmond, 17, of Darien.

Recounting a dramatic help episode he had at an early age, Eamonn said, “It gives me another perspective on life that most people don’t have, but a perspective that kids with cancer have.”

To donate, visit the event page here.