By Trish Muntean (Fort Wainwright Public Affairs)March 25, 2010
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska -- Fort Wainwright Soldiers and members of the Firefighters Association got into the spirit of St. Patrick's Day by shaving their heads to increase awareness of childhood cancer and to raise funds for research.
The St. Baldrick's Foundation is the world's largest volunteer-driven fundraising event for childhood cancer research. The work "Baldrick" is a blend of the words bald and Patrick.
Traditionally fundraisers for this organization are held around St. Patrick's Day, as the first shaving of the heads was part of a St. Patrick's Day celebration. Shaving their heads is a sign of participant's solidarity with children who have lost their hair to cancer treatments.
More than a dozen Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, participated.
"Kids' cancer awareness is a great cause and I felt that our unit needed to get behind it... We've raised approximately $400, which isn't that much, but... every bit counts," said Spc. Adam Severson.
Close to two dozen members of the Fort Wainwright Firefighters Association participated in the event. The association was established so that firefighters who are federal employees could participate in fundraisers and other community events as a group, something they could not do wearing Fort Wainwright Fire Department gear.
Justin Boddy is a Fort Wainwright firefighter and member of "Fraternal Order Of Leatherheads Society", an international organization for firefighters. The Farthest North F.O.O.L.S. chapter sponsors the local event.
Boddy has been the primary coordinator for the Fairbanks area St. Baldrick's fundraiser since 2006. He said that the Fort Wainwright Firefighters Association has been the top fundraiser for the last few years. This year they raised $6000.
Traditionally participants of this event are primarily emergency services workers, but there were also scouts, hairdressers and teachers who joined in the fun. Some of the participants were women, who if they have more than 8-inches of hair cut off can donate it to "Locks of Love," a charity that makes wigs for disadvantaged children who have lost their hair due to a medical cause.
Brandie Cortese, a commissary employee brought her daughters, Kylie, 7, and Kassadie, 6, out to the St. Baldrick's event and all three had their hair trimmed for "Locks of Love."
Spc. Keith Petty heard about the event from his Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers representative. "I just thought it was something I wanted to be a part of... to help out and raise money for kids with cancer couldn't be a better thing to do," said Petty. "Not only is it helping them, but it makes me feel good to be a part of something like this."