NORWICH — The annual fundraiser to support children's cancer research St. Baldrick's shattered last year's record of $38,315, with the 2022 event bringing in over $52,000.
The festivities kicked off on Saturday, March 19, with 40 participants in total, 29 of which signed up to be "shavees" who would shave their heads live, in solidarity with children enduring cancer treatments.
Some participants gathered at The Blarney Stone Pub in Norwich, while others were patched in to the Facebook live stream via Zoom.
"At this point in time, the event is at $51,395," said Master of Ceremonies Brian Burton as the event went live.
"The Norwich St. Baldrick's began in , the same year the foundation was formed. It was started by local Norwich firefighters. The event has grown to include people from all over Chenango County and beyond. Our event currently raises around $30,000 a year, making it one of the largest annual fundraisers in the county. Every penny raised locally goes to the St. Baldrick's Foundation."
Saturday's event was also dedicated to six year old Trinity O'Connor, of Sidney, who fought cancer for four years.
"Today’s event is also dedicated in the memory of Trinity O’Connor. Born on November 6, 2015 to her parents Danny and Brandie O’Connor. At the age of two, she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Over the next four years, Trinity fought cancer three times and built a following of supporters. The Facebook page O’Connor Strong had about 6,000 followers," said Burton. "Trinity lived in Sidney, New York with her parents and her surviving siblings: Dan Jr., Madison, and Jonathan. Once again, today’s event is dedicated in the memory of Trinity O’Connor. O’Connor strong."
Participants donned their green shirts, and shavees donned green barber's capes. Burton chatted with shavees as they braved the shave, and many explained their reasons for joining the fundraiser. First-time Event Organizer Jamie Burchill explained how she got involved in St. Baldrick's around six years ago, when her college roommate's daughter was being treated for cancer.
"My roommate from college, his daughter was going through treatment, and I think it was like six years ago, and I wanted to do something," said Burchill. "I had heard about this from A. [Jones] and other people that were active, so I really wanted to shave my head. So I did, and I’ve been stuck with this group ever since."
Despite it being her first year as Organizer, Burchill managed to surpass her overall event goal of $31,000 by more than $20,000, and was awarded a medal for being the 2022 event's top fundraiser.
"Each year we like to recognize the top individual fundraiser, and this year the difference came down to $126.22," said former Organizer A. Wesley Jones. "But our top fundraiser this year was Jamie with $6,521.45."
Several other St. Baldrick's participants were recognized for their efforts as well, such as Dylan O., Lily H., and Abigail B. who rang in their third year of participation, making them St. Baldrick's Squires of Hope. Ed Mitchell was recognized as a Knight Commander for ten years of participation, and Deb DeVinne was recognized as a Crusader for a Cure for her 15 years of dedication to the cause.
Father-son duo, A. and Tyler Jones, celebrated their 13th consecutive year of raising money and shaving their heads for St. Baldrick's. To date, the pair have raised over $70,000 to support children's cancer research.
Team Bruce, made up of Team Captain Bruce Zimmer and seven kids from Gilbertsville-Mount Upton School, celebrated a record year with $8,650 raised. Streaming from GMU, several of the kids shaved their heads before they all worked together to shave Zimmer's head and beard.
In addition to the numerous participants and the Norwich St. Baldrick's committee, the event was also made possible by several local individuals and businesses who donated money, time, and services to the event. Thanks to the efforts of everyone involved, the day closed out with a fundraising total of $52,123.
"I want to announce that our total at this point is $52,123. So biggest in history, so good job," said Burchill. "Just a couple thank yous: Candy Holbert, who already left, was our barber; Matt Jenne and John, the tech crew; Brian Burton, our amazing Master of Ceremonies; Dustin Genter and Zach Meseck, who were both taking photographs; Nina’s for feeding us; The Blarney Stone Pub for housing us, and I need everyone to know that they donated all the proceeds from today to our event, so thank you so much; of course our Hero sponsors NBT, NBT Insurance, and New York Central Mutual; and a huge thank you to my committee."
"There’s a lot of community events, a lot of fundraising, that goes on in the county and surrounding counties, and they don’t happen without these two corporate sponsors," Burton said of NYCM and NBT. "Almost everything you show up to, you will see those names on the sponsorship. So we’re very lucky to live in a community where the corporations are willing to step up and help out with these events."
Burchill announced she would be returning next year as Organizer, and Burton, who has acted as Master of Ceremonies for several years, said he would continue to return as long as he was needed.
"Thank you to Jamie for asking me to do this, I want to thank Peter for asking me a few years ago to get involved. I love doing this. You’ve got my commitment as long as you guys keep committing yourselves to this great cause," said Burton. "I will continue to commit to you that as long as you will have me, I will stand up here every year and try to keep the flow of this thing going."
Although the 2022 event has come and gone, fundraising efforts are not slowing down. Donations will be accepted on the Norwich St. Baldrick's event page, stbaldricks.org/events/norwich2022, until December 31.
To view the live stream event, visit the St. Baldrick's - Norwich, NY Facebook page.