Darien student raises over $7.5K for St. Baldrick's Foundation

DARIEN — For the second year in a row, Darien middle schooler Ethan Lublin has coordinated his own independent St. Baldrick’s fundraising effort, raising $7,500 in the process.

He was a member of the fire department’s effort last year before it was canceled so instead, he did it on his own. This year, he initiated it separately.

The Darien fire departments usually hold a townwide event in which participants have their heads shaved to raise money to fight childhood cancer. Lublin was the top fundraiser for the last two years the event was held.

But when the townwide event was canceled last year, the then-sixth grader took matters into his own hands. Last year, he raised nearly $7,000 in a Zoom event that included about 60 participants. This year, he held a smaller event at his own with a few friends.

Lublin surpassed his total last year at this year’s event on April 24, raising $7,500 for the charitable foundation. His team raised over $10,000.

In 2018, he raised $12,879, and in 2019, he raised $10,171.

Lublin said he began doing St. Baldrick’s when he was in fourth grade because he had a friend who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

“Getting involved with St. Baldrick’s has been a way for me to show support and hopefully one day end childhood cancer,” he said.

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

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.

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

In the first year, 27 people shaved their heads and raised $10,637. In 2017, 73 shaved their heads and raised nearly 10 times more, for a total of $93,994. Last year, the Darien firefighters’ event raised over $38,000.

Smith said he decided not to hold the gathering this year during March, when it usually occurs, but aims for possibly late summer or fall depending on pandemic protocols.

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 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.