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Posted: 03/18/09

Above, bagpipers from the Detroit Shrine Highlanders Pipes and Drums group blared music during the opening ceremony of the St. Baldrick's fundraiser.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

Over $70,000 raised by
St. Baldrick's fundraiser

Observer Staff Writer
      Only two things were shining brighter than the sun on March 14 in Romeo: Smiles and bald heads.
       Anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people poured into downtown Romeo Saturday to enjoy and contribute to Romeo's first-ever St. Baldrick's fundraiser, put on by downtown businesses and volunteers. The fundraiser is to raise money for childhood cancer research.
       The St. Baldrick's fundraiser had volunteers collect donations from friends and family, who then showed up to watch as the volunteers had their heads completely shaved to show solidarity with children who lose their hair from cancer treatments.
       The event raised more than $70,000, more than double of the original $30,000 goal, said Michael Fiscus, coordinator of the Romeo fundraiser.
       "We actually passed $30,000 on Friday," he said. "We've got counting teams tallying up all the stuff coming in from the shavees."
       On-line donations were more than $42,000 as of Tuesday morning, along with $27,000 in cash and checks heading to the bank. Fiscus said he hopes to have a final dollar amount by the end of the month.
       More than 130 people volunteered to have their heads shaved, a count that doesn't include those who were shorn on Main Street just outside of Thee Office Pub and Cookery.
       "We had to open up the second station just to handle the volumes," Fiscus said.
       The event was held in honor of the Costas, a Washington Township family whose son, Noah, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. It also honored the MacBeth family, who lost their 2-year-old daughter to cancer in 2002.
       "It is very much about the research and funding, but it is definitely about the awareness," said Jameson MacBeth.
       Events all over Romeo drew in hundreds of people of all ages, ranging from face painting to kids bingo, music, and raffles. Volunteers at the former Tickled Pink store gave shark plushies and mini-footballs to kids, all donated for the event.
       "I think it's really cool seeing all these kids so happy," said Lindsay Pukey, a volunteer from Sterling Heights.
       Laura Parrinello, along with her daughter Alaina, of Romeo cheered as Alaina won a soccer ball during the kids' raffle held at the Kezar Branch Library.
       "We plan on going to all the events," said Laura. "We'll probably be coming back with the family."
       One event that garnered both teenagers and donations was a video game tournament held at the Abyss, a next-generation arcade where kids signed up to compete for prizes.
       "We figured it would bring a lot of people in, they'd all have a good time and the proceeds will go toward a good cause," said owner Matt McCoul. "It's been a real nice turnout."
       A procession, complete with bagpipe music from the Detroit Shrine Highlanders Pipes, led the way down Main Street from the Kezar library toward Younger's Irish Tavern, where people packed into the second floor to watch the shavings.
       Before clippers buzzed on, Noah's mother, Anne, thanked everyone for coming, and also gave the good news that her co-workers at GM collected $7,000 for the event.
       "It's overwhelming to see this amount of people here, it's just amazing the support we've been getting," she said to the crowd. "And Noah, thanks for being the little warrior that you are."
       With that, volunteers eagerly began to form a line at the barber chairs, awaiting their chance to sit down and be a hero for kids. Rob Bucci of Oxford, along with his son Marino, were among the first to get their heads shaved.
       "I donated last year, but this is the first time we're getting shaved," he said. "The event looks like a great success."
       Jim Vowell, paramedic/firefighter with the Bruce-Romeo Fire Department was amongst the many other area firefighters who came to support the event and become shavees.
       "We've got about 16 members of our team, it was brought up as a friendly competition among the ranks to see who could raise the most money, and it turned into a lot of fun," he said.

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Retrieved 8/2/2015 at 10:22:23 AM.
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