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Shaving heads to fight cancer

Chris Walsh of Commack has his head shaved

Chris Walsh of Commack has his head shaved every year to raise money for childhood cancer during St. Baldrick's Day. (2011) Photo Credit: Handout

If you see an unusually large number of kids walking around bald this month, don't be surprised. March is the month for St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraisers at schools and other venues, where volunteers have their heads shaved in return for donations to fight childhood cancer.

On Friday after school at Commack High School, for instance, 13-year-old Chris Walsh will say goodbye to his hair -- for the sixth time. The eighth-grader will raise $1,000; he's done it every year since third grade and has raised about $8,000 in all, says his mom, Kathy.

"I do it every year because I believe it's a good cause," Chris says. "It feels right inside to do it." If Chris does a seventh shave, he'll be eligible for the Foundation's elite Knights of the Bald Table.

"To be honest, it's really scary looking when it first happens," says Kathy Walsh. It makes her grateful her son hasn't lost his hair due to chemotherapy, as many childhood cancer patients do.

At Newfield High School in Selden, students donated money so teachers would shave their heads -- and 13 teachers have signed up, including English teacher Kelly Rini, who spearheaded the event.

"It is going to be challenging for me to show up and stand in front of the classroom without hair and still have the students focus on Shakespeare," she says. "Imagine if I had to do this every day while being sick? What if it were you, a student? This is an amazing opportunity to actually demonstrate to students the challenges that others face."

Local bars and other organizations also sponsor events. Visit stbaldricks.org for a list on Long Island.

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