More than $29,000 raised for children's cancer research

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By Stephen Lega

Sheep should have it so nice.

For nearly two hours Saturday afternoon, men, women and children lined up to have their heads shaved as part of the second annual St. Baldrick's Day in Marion County.

Eric Daugherty of Citizen's National Bank, which organized the event, said he was pleased with the turnout, but he wants everyone to remember the reason they were there.

"The main reason is to raise the money to help find a cure to combat childhood cancer, and all the bald heads are in solidarity for those going through treatments," he said.

The event was held in St. Augustine Grade School gymnasium. As of Monday morning, $29,250 had been collected for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which uses the money to fund children's cancer research.

The participants included returning shavees and several first-timers, including two women, Pamela Langford (see related story, this page) and Jama Watts-Perkins.

Don Welch arrived with a thick head of hair and a beard that showed a few years of work. Welch said he decided to take part after hearing about the event on the radio.

"I said I can probably get $100," he said.

The next day, his co-workers made sure people knew about it as well.

Welch didn't shave everything, however.

"My wife wouldn't let me get the beard," he said.

Jody Tungate and his son Andrew, 5, both got their heads shaved this year.

"It's for a good cause," said Tungate, who is a member of the team from Angell-Demmel.

That was a common refrain among many of this year's shavees.

In all, seven teams participated in the event this year.

Marion Adjustment Center was one of the teams that returned for a second time. They even started early when 18 inmates got their heads shaved at the prison Friday afternoon.

One of the inmates, Kelly Parker, said people need a lift when they are going through rough times.

"I felt this was a way to help a child through those rough times," he said.

Fifteen other MAC team members got their heads shaved Saturday.

Steven Herman, an armory officer at the prison, said he plans to take part in St. Baldrick's as long as he can. He said getting his head shaved is not asking much to help kids with cancer. In all, MAC employees and inmates raised $1,577.70.

While some shavees had been raising money for months, others, like 6-year-old Spencer Riggs, decided to participate the night before the event.

"He got his friends and family and they donated," his mother, Gevette Riggs, said.

Spencer Riggs raised $80.

When all was said and done, the 16 volunteer barbers shaved at least 98 heads, according to the local organizers.

Daugherty said the best part of the event was hearing why people participated, whether is was Mike Mattingly who was honoring his wife or 6-year-old Matthew Miles, a cancer survivor who got his hair cut again. (Miles was profiled in the March 12 Enterprise.)

"When all was said and done my legs and back ached a little, but most of all my heart was touched and I was emotionally drained. When friends and strangers can laugh, smile, hug, and cry all at the same time it makes for a good day," Daugherty said. "I am extremely proud to be a part of this community." St. Baldrick's tidbits: • Marion County has contributed more than $54,000 to the St. Baldrick's Foundation in the last two years. • The top individual fundraiser in 2008 was Chris Hamilton, who raised $1,390, according to the St. Baldrick's website. • The CNB Baldies were the top fundraising team with $8,583 collected as of Monday morning. • Pamela Langford easily made the biggest contribution. Her hair measured 48 inches long when she arrived. Before she went under the clippers, her barbers cut two 36-inch ponytails, which will be donated to Locks of Love.