Hundreds shave their heads for largest St. Baldrick's fundraiser at Kitty Hoynes
Hundreds of people walked into Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub and Restaurant in Syracuse Sunday; and, walked out with a drastic makeover. The pub held its ninth annual head shaving event to benefit the Saint Baldrick's Foundation. Our Sarah Blazonis tells us what makes the fundraiser stand out from others in CNY and around the world.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Hairdressers took a little off the top, and the sides, and the back, for hundreds at Kitty Hoynes Sunday.
"It's kind of weird not having hair, and it's really fun to feel," said Benjamin Schultz, 11, after getting his head shaved.
"His hair was down to here," said his brother, Nathan Schultz, 8, pointing to just above Benjamin's eyebrows.
More than 500 people took it all off for the pub's ninth annual St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraiser. For some, shaving their heads is a yearly tradition, but there were also first-timers packed in among the crowds.
"I'm nervous, okay? I'm afraid my head's going to be deformed," said participant Karen Frost.
But Frost, like so many others, had some powerful motivation.
"I'm a wish granter for Make-A-Wish," she said. "So, one of my wish kids' brother wants to be a hero, so I basically joined his team to give him a higher donation to try to raise for kids with cancer."
Also in Frost's heart Sunday was a friend who lost her battle with brain cancer four years ago.
It's the memories of those lost that helped fuel the Kitty Hoynes event. It's brought in more than $2 million since it began, making it the single biggest event for St. Baldrick's fundraising in the world.
"It's easy for the kids because they can identify -- they've had a classmate that's unfortunately been sick, and especially knowing that the money is coming local," said Sophia Meskos, the event's co-coordinator.
It also helps the foundation fill a gap in research funding. Only 4% of all federal funding for cancer research goes towards finding a cure for childhood cancers.
"It'll all fund grants for childhood cancer research, and that is all that we do at St. Baldrick's is fund childhood cancer research throughout the country," said Susan Heard, director of partnerships for the St. Baldrick's Foundation.
After a final hair tousle from her Make-A-Wish Kid, it was time for Frost to take the plunge. She wasn't alone, her daughter held the razor, and there was plenty of support from the crowd.
"There's so many children that lose their hair and they don't have a choice," said Frost. "It gives me a lot of hope because I see that the children are getting a better chance at life on this."
A chance that makes life just a little more beautiful.
Kitty Hoynes expected to meet its goal of raising $330,000 at Sunday's fundraiser.
Organizers said anyone who didn't get the chance to come out can still take part in other Saint Baldrick's events across Central New York.
To learn more, visit stbaldricks.org.