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Local volunteers brave the shave

St. Baldrick’s event in Saugerties to raise money for childhood cancer

When Saugerties mom Gloria Darmanin first decided to host her own St. Baldrick’s head-shaving fundraiser, she timidly set the fundraising goal at $3,000.

“I wasn’t sure we’d even hit that number,” she says. “Each time we hit our goal, I’d raise it by another thousand.”

The event has already raised nearly $50,000 and that number is growing every day. More than 80 volunteers have signed up to shave their heads, ranging from stay-at-home mothers to police officers, and even children as young as kindergarten age.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a national charity dedicated to raising money for children’s cancer research. Volunteers like Darmanin organize local head-shaving events,  where children and adults brave the shave in solidarity with kids with cancer.

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With less than 4 percent of all federal cancer research funding dedicated to pediatric cancer research, St. Baldrick’s is committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives.

“These children are worth more than 4 percent,” says Darmanin. “St. Baldrick’s is volunteer driven, which is key. The foundation funds more childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government.

"Seven children die every day of cancer in the U.S.A," she continues. "Every day! Worldwide, a child is diagnosed every three minutes.

"We need people to know that children in your own towns are battling the hardest thing in their lives. How many of these children are dying? How many are affected by the strong medications being pumped through their little bodies? Instead of running around the playgrounds and attending birthday parties, they are living in and out of hospitals." 

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Darmanin says she chose St. Baldrick's because she knew they relied so heavily on volunteers.

"I have learned a lot about where our money goes with some more well known charities, and I can no longer give my energy and my heart to organizations where more pennies to the dollar end up in a CEO's pocket than directly toward the cause."

Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has awarded more than $154 million to support lifesaving research, making the foundation the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants. 

With their signature head-shaving events, volunteers are raising more than just money, they are raising awareness, says Darmanin.. 

"For every bald head that is walking around, it gives them the opportunity to tell others why they are bald by choice," she says. "All this while also showing the St. Baldrick's honored families and children that we stand by you! Without dedicated volunteers and shavees, none of this is possible."

The family-friendly event will be held Saturday, March 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Multi-Purpose/Senior Center on 207 Market St. in Saugerties. In addition to the shavees, there will be a DJ, face painting, bake sale, raffles, and more.