AUBURN — Seven years ago three guys from Auburn sat around a kitchen table to draw up plans to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fight childhood cancer.
The cancer fight continues and so does the fundraising.
On Sunday, the annual Auburn St. Baldrick’s event at the Knights of Columbus Council 207 was expected to raise nearly $50,000 to fund childhood cancer research and help families.
All it took was about 60 participants willing to part with their hair.
“We’re doing it for the kids,” said Hector Torres, a barber with Upstate’s Finest Barbershop on Columbus Street in Auburn, who volunteered to cut hair for the event.
That attitude was echoed from the volunteers selling raffle tickets and food to those having their heads shaved.
For the last eight years, members of Matthew Kidd's family have shaved their heads at events in Auburn or Syracuse in honor of his cousin Caitlyn Stefanak, who died of neuroblastoma. Caitlyn was 4 when she died in 2011, he said.
“Our family will continue to support St. Baldrick’s until a cure is found and long after,” Kidd told the crowd. “Our hearts continue to be broken with the loss of Caitlyn. We will continue to honor her always and hope in her name we can be a small piece of saving a child and healing a family.”
Auburn’s St. Baldrick’s events in the last six years have raised $515,000, said Jack Baraczek, the Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 207. The event co-chaired by the Knights and the Auburn firefighters hoped to raise $50,000 at Sunday’s event, he said.
The event’s first year found the three organizers sitting around the kitchen table: Cayuga County Legislator Patrick Mahunik, who is now the Legislature's chairman, and Auburn firefighters Brian Scanlan and Mark Pinneau. They set a modest goal of raising $20,000, Mahunik said.
Instead, the community outdid itself raising $94,000 by 130 people willing to go bald for a cause, he said.
It was an amazing amount because overall that weekend the Auburn community (with its population of roughly 27,000) raised $250,000 overall for St. Baldrick’s, the Relay for Life and a family fundraiser, he said.
“That’s who we are. It’s an amazing community. When anything happens everyone comes together,” said Mahunik.