On Sunday, March 11, my 14-year-old son sat to have his head shaved in the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser for childhood cancer research.
Usually I keep my family out of my public posts. But Adam is such a sport and, frankly, he looks pretty good with a tight shave.
Below is the “before” photo. That’s Laurie Griffith cutting his hair; she owns Cut hair salon on Lee Road and spent the day with her staff as volunteers shaving heads. Our sons have played soccer together for years.
The local event was organized by Krissy Gallagher and raised about $30,000. Krissy blogs about it with some nice photos of her own, here. It was a great party atmosphere. Held at the Cleveland Heights Community Center, in a room that just might have the worst acoustics in the state, a couple hundred people gathered to eat bake-sale treats (another $230 raised), listen to members of Heights Singers, watch some Irish dancing and witness the de-locking of a whole bunch of boys, girls, men and a few brave women.
One of those women was Kristi Glasier; she was the fourth-grade teacher for one of my daughters at Coventry about 10 years ago, and is now teaching at Fairfax – where I’ve joined her class a few times as a Junior Achievement volunteer.
My other daughter’s fourth-grade teacher was Krissy Gallagher – who has also been a bit of a mentor and confidante ever since. In fact, that daughter has been babysitting for the Gallagher kids, Austin and Braedan, since shortly after they were born. When she’s home from college – as she happened to be on the day of this event – she still babysits for them, less for the money than the love.
On Sunday, she was there to cheer on her brother and both of the Gallagher boys as their heads were shaved.
What made the event so heartwarming is that it’s kind of a “Wonderful Life” moment for Krissy and her family – all of whom have first-hand experiences with the ravages of Austin’s childhood cancer. From city officials to distant acquaintances, people participate to say they care.
Here’s Austin getting shaved. I loved the stylist’s approach – starting with the male-pattern baldness look before finishing the job. (That’s green paint on his head – part of the event.) As each shavee sat down, Krissy used a microphone to give the crowd a brief profile. As the clipper went about its work on her youngest son, I teared up a bit when Krissy said: “This is Austin’s second time being shaved and his fourth time being bald.”
I honestly don’t know Krissy and her family well enough to call them good friends, but we’re connected by too many threads to be anything less. So it was a pleasure to be a small part of this big event.
It affirms what I’ve been learning since stepping off the corporate treadmill three years ago: There’s no better place for swimming than in a small pond.