2023 Norwich St. Baldrick's Raises $49,236
Published: March 21st, 2023
By: Sarah Genter

2023 Norwich St. Baldrick's raises $49,236 Participants "braving the shave" at the 2023 Norwich St. Baldrick's Fundraiser held on Saturday, March 18 at the Norwich American Legion Post 189. This year's barbers were Teresa Trask and Lynn VanValkenburg of Me Time by Teresa. (Photo by Dustin Genter of 5th Dimension Photography)

NORWICH — The 2023 Norwich St. Baldrick's "Brave the Shave" fundraising event was held at the Norwich American Legion Post 189 on Saturday, March 18. The annual fundraiser to support childhood cancer research finished the event just shy of their $50,000 goal, with a total of $49,236 raised.

"Every two minutes, a child is being diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer. In the United States alone, one in 263 children has a chance to be diagnosed with cancer before age 20," said Master of Ceremonies Josh Burchill.

"Let’s continue to raise money," he continued. "Let’s find a way to support the research that’s going on currently to end childhood cancer."

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Fundraising efforts are still ongoing. Donations for the 2023 Norwich St. Baldrick's are being accepted now through December 31 at StBaldricks.org/events/norwich2023.

This year's fundraiser had 51 participants in total, including 35 "shavees" — individuals who elected to not only raise money for the cause, but also shave their heads in solidarity with children diagnosed with cancer.

"I am absolutely thrilled that it turned out as amazing as it did," said Norwich St. Baldrick's Committee Chair Jamie Burchill. "I mean, we were a little skeptical about two weeks ago. But we’ve just, the donations have just kept piling in. We've had so many people at the very last minute come in and sign up to shave."

The 2023 St. Baldrick's was held in memory of Lillee Bronson and in honor of Taegan C.

Lillee, affectionately known as "Lillee Bean," was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in December of 2020 at just five years old. After 19 months of treatment, and staying her positive, spunky self, Lillee passed away in July of 2022, just nine days before her seventh birthday.

Lillee's family was able to attend Saturday's event, and they were presented with a Certificate of Inspiration.

"We are so honored to have your family here with us today, and we’re so grateful that you’ve shared your daughter with us, and we truly hope that, while nothing will ease the pain of losing her, this helps a little bit," said Norwich St. Baldrick's Committee Member Marissa Phelps. "We would love to present to you a Certificate of Inspiration, and it’s awarded to Lillee and her family."

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Lillee's story can be read at StBaldricks.org/kids/mypage/10107.

The 2023 event was also held in honor of six-year-old Taegan C., diagnosed with neuroblastoma in May of 2020, and who just found out within the last month that she is now in remission. Taegan was presented a Certificate of Courage at Saturday’s fundraiser.

Joining the event were Taegan's brothers who signed up as shavees. While at the fundraiser, Taegan approached Committee members and asked to also shave her head.

"She looked at Marissa [Phelps] and I and she goes, ‘Can I shave what little I have left?’ I’m like, absolutely! We wanted her to feel like she could do that, too," said Norwich St. Baldrick's Committee Member Brianna Phelps.

"With the honored children, one in memory of and then the other in honor of, it was so impactful. I mean, that’s what we’re doing this for, and people were able to see what we’re doing this for," said Jamie Burchill. "It’s almost like an enigma, and then when you see it, I think that was incredibly powerful."

The top fundraiser for this year's event was Gwendalyn Roberts, an 11-year-old who signed up as a shavee for the first time this year and raised $3,395.38. Team Tyler, made up of father-son duo A. and Tyler Jones, came in as the top fundraising team. The pair have been shaving for St. Baldrick's for 14 years, and raised $5,350.05 for the 2023 fundraiser.

Also recognized at the event was the American Legion Post 189 for hosting, as well as Hero-Level Sponsors New York Central Mutual, NBT Bank, and NBT Insurance Agency, and Friend-Level Sponsors Mirabito Energy and Spence Curnalia, PLLC.

The 2023 Norwich St. Baldrick's was also supported by Gilligan's Ice Cream, who created the St. Baldrick's ice cream flavor "Cookies and Cures;" Nina's Pizzeria, who provided food; barbers Teresa Trask and Lynette VanValkenburg of Me Time by Teresa; tech specialist Matt Jenne; treasurer Ed Mitchell; photographer Dustin Genter of 5th Dimension Photography; event volunteers Avery Hill and Aiden Stafford; and the Blarney Stone Pub, who sold St. Baldrick's charms.

For more information on the St. Baldrick's Foundation, visit StBaldricks.org. For more information on the 2023 Norwich St. Baldrick's event or to donate, visit StBaldricks.org/events/norwich2023 or visit the St. Baldrick's - Norwich, NY Facebook page.