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Northport woman gets 15th-straight St. Baldrick’s shearing

The hair clippers buzzed Saturday, March 11, 2017, at Napper Tandy's in Northport, where the St. Baldrick's Foundation raised money to support finding a cure for childhood cancers. One participant with a big smile and a chilly scalp said getting her head shaved was not only to help children with cancer, but also to show gratitude for the health of her own children. (Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman)

Donna Marketta Borden got her head shaved Saturday at Napper Tandy’s in Northport as angels looked down upon her.

Above the hair-cutting stations at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser were blown-up pictures of some of the childhood cancer victims the organization raises money to help save.

If an angel is affixed to a photo, the child has died.

But the good news is that for the first time in several years, Borden didn’t need to find any more angels to tack onto pictures. It’s an anecdotal but hopeful development for Borden, who on Saturday got her head shaved for the 15th straight year at the event.

“My love of children,” Borden replied when asked why she keeps going under the shears. “I have three healthy children and 11 healthy nieces and nephews. Every child should have a chance to live a happy, healthy life. . . . I don’t think anybody wants to see a sick child.”

 Borden, 55, of Northport, got involved with the event back in the day through her church, St. Philip Neri Parish in Northport, and hasn’t wavered about going under the clippers since.

“I’ve made a choice to embark upon this,” she said. “But that’s a lot easier than the people who have had this [illness] forced upon them.”

Anita Accardo was getting her head shaved for the seventh straight year in memory of her daughter, Jen, who died in 2010 of cancer at age 20.

Anita, her husband, John, and others have their heads shaved as a team, Jen’s Ducks, honoring their daughter’s love of the animal. (She had a favorite plush toy duck that she was buried with and a real duck named Ducky that now lives at Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck in Center Moriches, near Mount Pleasant Cemetery, where Jen is laid to rest.)

“It’s bittersweet,” Anita Accardo said of the annual event, before remembering that her daughter, who loved NASCAR and wheeled around her IV with a bucket at Stony Brook Hospital to collect donations for research, is “looking down and laughing her hiney off.”

The Northport event has raised $5.1 million from its 2002 debut through the 2016 fundraiser, according to organizer John McKenna.

[Childhood cancer research] is so historically underfunded,” John Accardo said. “It really takes the private sector to support the research.”

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