Darien firefighters shave their way to a cure to childhood cancer
DARIEN — Every March for the past 13 years, many Darien firefighters begin growing out their hair. But their new hairdos don’t last long. At the end of the month, the firefighters and other members of the community shave their heads to raise money for St. Baldrick’s, a charity devoted to curing childhood cancer.
The fundraiser was originally held at Bradford’s Grill and Tavern in Stamford but moved to the Darien firehouse a few years ago.
“We figured it’d grow in popularity and would be good for the town,” said Shane Smith, a Darien firefighter helping organize the fundraiser.
Anyone in Darien interested in shaving their heads can sign up to help fundraise. The Noroton and Noroton Heights fire departments chip in and in the past, Smith said, they’ve had local grade schoolers pledge to shave their heads, too. One time, a woman recently diagnosed with breast cancer also took part.
“It was a boost for her confidence,” Smith said.
Everyone who signs up can take donations via cash or check. This year, the firehouse hopes to raise $50,000. So far, they’ve raised a little over half of their goal and have 45 “shavees” raising money. Smith said he’s expecting to see that number rise to around 100 by the April 1 event.
Smith said the Darien firehouse chooses to give to St. Baldrick’s partially because of their strong donation history: 96 percent of the money raised goes toward research and fundraising for the organization. Moreover, the cause — childhood cancer — hits close to home for many Darien firefighters, as the department often works with community members around the same age as the children St. Baldrick’s helps.
“Being a firefighter, you interact with the community a lot,” Smith said. “Given (St. Baldrick’s) benefits children, there’s a better feeling to do that. You know the funds will be used appropriately.”
To donate or for more information, visit stbaldricks.org/events/TownofDarienFireFighters
“It goes to a good place,” added Alex Orsi, one of the firefighters who has participated in the event for the past several years. “It’s standing in solidarity with the kids.”
This year, the department will also employ a little extra fundraising by selling t-shirts on the day of the event.
“They’re St. Patrick’s Day t-shirts for the department and the proceeds will all go to St. Baldrick’s,” said James Townsend, another firefighter participating this year.