Cut for a Cause

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By Stephen Lega

Justin Craig sat still in the barber's chair and waited as the stylist shaved his head bald.


His mother, Martha Mattingly, was a few feet away, taking photographs through the tears of pride welling up in her eyes.


This wasn't Craig's first haircut, but it was the first time he has participated in St. Baldrick's. 


Craig said that he decided to participate this year in honor of his mother, who is a breast cancer survivor.

By the end of the event, lots of hair and a few tears wound up on the floor of the St. Augustine School gymnasium Saturday afternoon. All the money raised will be donated to the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which raises money to fund children's cancer research.


Citizens National Bank hosted and organized the third annual event again this year, and as of Monday, the bank reported that more than $18,000 has been raised by this year's 65 shavees.


That may be short of the $35,000 goal, but Jim Reed of Citizens Bank preferred to look at it as $18,000 that wouldn't have otherwise gone toward cancer research.


"That's what this was all about," he said.


In addition to the event at St. Augustine, a few new fundraisers included a cookout at the bank and a karaoke contest that spanned three weekends at Big Jim's. 


Reed said the karaoke contest generated more than $1,500, and both of the contest winners, Jim Walker and Brandy Wiser, donated their winnings back to the St. Baldrick's Foundation.


The event organizers would also like to have more shavees next year, and if this year's participants follow Craig's example, that could easily become a reality. 


Craig said he will try to form a team with his co-workers at Central Kentucky Ag Credit, even if he did say he felt "naked" after getting shorn.


One of the younger participants in this year's event was Christian Elder, 7, of Loretto. He said he took part in this year's event "to save people."


Christian was the "half" for the team Five and a Half Men, which also included his father, Jonathan Elder. Both Elders arrived with spiked mohawks.


Each year there have been female participants as well. Julie Robey, who got her head shaved in the first St. Baldrick's event in 2007, was back to support this year's shavees.


Pamela Langford, who shaved her head and donated two 36-inch ponytails to Locks of Love last year, provided support and motivation for her sister, Paula Oliver, who was this year's first female participant.

Oliver, a member of the Marion Adjustment Center team, shed a few tears as her hair was removed, but afterwards she said she felt really good.


"I did it for a good cause," Oliver said.


Emcee Jeremy Bowman opened this year's event by recognizing the top individual and team fundraisers from 2008. Mike Mattingly, Chris Hamilton and Reed were the top individuals, while the CNB Baldies and the AAR Summa Bald Eagles were the top fund-raising teams.


A special recognition was also presented to St. Augustine School Principal Sr. Rose Riley, since the school has hosted the event each year.


The decline in fund-raising wasn't a complete surprise with the down economy and fewer shavees than last year,  but it also seems to have made the bank's employees more determined for the 2010 event.


"I don't care what the state of the economy is, cancer is going to be a battle we're going to have to continue to fight," Reed said.


The bank employees are already working on some new ideas for next year, and Reed hinted that one of those ideas might involve inviting well-known individuals to offer up their heads, although inviting might not be the right word. 


"Everybody likes to see the biggies come out," he said. "I could see us going out and challenging some of them for next year."


Editor's note: Donations are still being accepted online. Go to www.stbaldricks.org/events and search for events in Lebanon, Ky., to contribute.