A’head’ of the curve

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Event raises nearly $39,000 for children’s cancer research

By Stephen Lega

Kaylee Hughes was a mix of emotions as two stylists starting making several ponytails with her hair. This was the first time she participated in St. Baldrick’s, and she admitted to being a little nervous.
But when all was said and done — and her hair was gone — she still had a smile on her face.
And she has a good reason to be happy about Saturday’s event at St. Augustine Grade School. Hughes was one of more than 70 shavees who raised money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises money to combat children’s cancer.
Last year, 98 people sat down to have their heads shaved, but event coordinator Sheila Lanham said this was another great event even if they did have fewer shavees this year.
As of Monday afternoon, Lanham reported that the preliminary total was $38,947.23.
“This is still one of the highest years we’ve had,” Lanham said. “We certainly couldn’t do it without the community behind us.”
In the eight years Citizens National Bank has sponsored the local event, more than $200,000 has been raised locally to fight children’s cancer.
During this year’s event, nine people were inducted in the Knights of the Bald Table, an honor for those who have participated for seven years.
The shavees who were inducted this year were Matthew Miles, Sammi Jo Potters, Spencer Riggs, Tom Robey and Walter Robey. Stylists Jessica Baker, Kim Childers, Eileen Hughes, and Polly Miller were inducted as well.
Miles served as the ambassador child for the local event back in 2008. He has returned every year since then, and his cancer has been in remission for several years.
This year’s ambassador child, Parker Thompson, 4, was also able to attend. He was diagnosed with Stage IV heptoblastoma last year, and he was in the hospital this past week for what everyone hopes was his final chemotherapy treatment.
Thompson was a little shy, but his presence served as a reminder of why people sat down to be shorn.
Jason Mattingly and his son, J.T., have been participating for the past three years.
“You never know when it could hit home,” Jason Mattingly said. “You don’t pick cancer. It picks you.”
Amy Tongate decided to participate this year for the first time, in part because several of her family and friends have been diagnosed with cancer.
“It’s just a good thing to do, especially for young children,” she said.
For several years, Citizens Bank put together its own team of shavees known as the CNB Baldies. That group became Knights of the Bald Table last year.
This year the bank’s first female employee volunteered her head. Gwen Mattingly, who was dubbed the CNB Beauty, said she’s wanted to participate for a few years.
She also contributed several ponytails to Locks of Love, which makes wigs for people who’ve lost their hair due to chemotherapy or other medical conditions. By the end of Saturday’s event, the stylists had collected 46 ponytails.
Gwen Mattingly said her hair grows quickly, and this is a way she could “pay it forward”.
“The main thing is I just wanted to give back to the children who can’t ask for help,” she said.
Joe Paul Mattingly returned for the fifth time this year. During the February Farm Bureau meeting, he said one of his closest relatives volunteered him if they could raise at least $300.
“My son throws me under the bus every year,” Joe Paul Mattingly said.
Although he didn’t mind.
“It’s a very good cause, and your hair will grow back,” he said. “Every little bit counts.”