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Posted: 03/20/13

Above, Many of the shavees pose for a photo after the St. Baldrick's event held at the Romeo Lions Club last Saturday. Below first photo,
the Oakland Derby Diamond Team members Cortney Major, Sarah Hool and James Braun at the 2013 St. Baldrick's fundraiser. Below second photo, Powell Middle School student Kyle Knepper came to get his head shaved even after spraining his ankle. Below third photo, 10th-grader at Romeo High School, Alex Nicley, getting his head shaved. Below fourth photo, April Gallant, 10, and her brother Jordan, 12, both of Romeo, getting prepared for the St. Baldrick's parade though downtown Romeo. Below story, Some stylists did different designs on the participants' hair before they were shaved.

(Observer photos by Marianne Weiss and Mike Nicley)

Many schools get involved in
another record year for St. Baldrick's

Observer Special Writer
      Winter's last blast could not keep dedicated volunteers away from the Romeo area's St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraiser this year. 
       Held last Saturday at the Lion's Field House, this heartwarming event was packed with more than 600 volunteers, some of whom first walked in the event's parade.
       Heading south along Main Street, supporters walked behind local fire department trucks with family and friends. They headed toward the Lion's Field House, where hats came off as they headed inside to have their heads shaved.
       Getting things ready inside were barbers at 30 different hair cutting stations. Judy Mannino was decorating her station with green beaded necklaces for the volunteers to wear after their haircuts.
       "This is my second year," said Mannino, who works at Amaro Hairstyling in Clinton Township.  "I'm cutting hair today because I know someone whose child is affected by cancer, so I wanted to help out."
       Before the opening ceremony, the St. Andrews Pipe Band of Detroit volunteered its time and talent performing bagpipe music and the Queen of Scots Highland Dancers danced for the crowd. 
       "We were glad to come and help out." said David Martin, the pipe major of the group. He said some members traveled all the way from Windsor, Ann Arbor, Detroit and Livonia to be there.
       Mike Fiscus, the event's coordinator, was busy getting everything organized.
       "We had some people come from out of state," Fiscus said. "This year in Romeo we had 244 kids in school teams participating. They donated over $60,000. These kids are great."
       Together, with online donations, the entire group raised more than $282,000 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Fiscus said this will be increasing because the group had identified another $20,000 more in pledges.
       Diana Hoban and her son Aiden, were outside after playing the kids games. Aiden got a temporary tattoo painted on his face.
       "It's a basketball tattoo," said Aiden, 7. "I played ski-ball in there, it's a blast."
       Aiden goes to Amanda Moore Elementary School.
       "I'm waiting for my principal, Mr. Bennett, to get his head shaved," he said.
       His mother was happy to be there, too.
       "We're here to support Mr. Bennett," she said.
       The Amanda Moore Elementary School team raised more than $1,500.
       "Hopeful I could get a team together in short time, I went online and registered," said Roger Bennett. "It was an amazing experience. I am very proud of the Amanda Moore team."
       Amanda Moore students, parents and some of his staff member's older kids volunteered, even though they got a late start.
       Kyle Knepper, 11, a Powell Middle School student, was volunteering even though he just sprained his ankle and had to use crutches to be there.
       "I fell yesterday and sprained it, it still hurts, but I wanted to come.  This is fun," said Knepper, whose parents watched him get his head shaved. "There's a girl in my school who has cancer and a friend of my family does, too, so I wanted to be here to help out."
       James Braun was getting his head shaved for the first time.
       "I wanted to come because I lost my mother-in-law, Felicia Cicchetti, to brain cancer," said Braun, who was heading up a team called the "Oakland Derby Diamonds" who had more than 40 people in their team raising money.
       Some of the members on his team were wearing roller skates and were skating around in the field house.
       Casey and Marie Staszewski were on hand to support their son, Matthew Staszewski, a Bruce Township firefighter who was getting his head shaved for the cause.
       "This is Matthew's fifth year doing this for St. Baldrick's," said Marie, who said he also sold T-shirts for the event. "There were about six or seven from the fire department who were involved this year. The amount of money this event raises is phenomenal."
       On stage during the opening ceremony, Fiscus got the crowd cheering.
       "In the five years we've been doing this in Romeo, we have raised over one million dollars," he said to roaring applause. "When the event is over, the money keeps coming in.
       "People ask the volunteers afterward why they are bald, so by answering that question, they can get even more donations," said Fiscus. "The awesome thing is our folks are getting really smart about raising money."
       Teams raised money by selling T-shirts ahead of the event to promote it, school kids held raffles and many raised money in honor of other students with cancer.
       Kevin Danaj, one of the core organizers also spoke before the haircuts started.
       "It takes an army of volunteers to pull this off," he said. "We started before Christmas getting this thing organized, we've met every single week."
       He also thanked the production crew, barbers, team coordinators, local businesses, schools and a long list of volunteers who volunteered for the event.
       Pastor Mick Veach from Stony Creek Community Church in Washington Township prayed for the volunteers and families involved just before the shaving began.
       "Thank you all for all your work.  We're not only going to pray for a blessing but we're also going to pray for all the families who are currently going through a very challenging time, to give them strength, courage and hope," he said.
       Investing in a cure and the best possible childhood cancer research is the goal of the St. Baldrick's Foundation. The money impacts children who are being treated at more than 215 children's hospitals in the United States.
       For more information on the St. Baldrick's Foundation visit the website at


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