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In Long Beach, a hair-razing way to support people living with cancer

In Long Beach, a hair-razing way to support people living with cancer

“Just a little off the top,” Jim Fraser said, just before the clipping commenced.

Fraser was among a couple of dozen people who sat down inside the Long Beach Fire Department Union Hall in Signal Hill to have their heads shaved on Saturday, April 10. They were all displaying solidarity with people living with cancer, specifically children, at the 19th annual St. Baldrick Foundation Long Beach Shaves for Kids event. They were also raising money for cancer research.

“It’s a symbolic gesture and show of support,” said Fraser, a LBFD engineer and the chairperson for Saturday’s event. “I’m blessed to be a part of this.”

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-based charity that says it raises more funds each year to buoy childhood cancer research grants than any organization — except the U.S. government.

In just the last decade, the foundation has provided grants locally — including to the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center affiliated with Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital — and beyond.

Each year, one child is selected as the “Honored Kid” for whom volunteers raise money. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, a child has not yet been picked. Instead, a table full of photos of previous “Honored Kids,” including some who have since died, looked on.

 

Fraser has shaved his head six times in the past but this year his wife Caroline, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, had the honor of holding the clippers. His daughter, Sydney, assisted with the shaving, too.

And because this year marked a milestone for Fraser, Cubberley K-8 President Jessica Dotts recognized him for his participation with a “knighting” ceremony.

And he wasn’t the only one to reach a milestone.

Sam Schulman and Kevin McCormick, both 21, have been shaving their heads every year since kindergarten and this year marked their fifteenth time.

“It started when a family friend, only 7 years old, passed away from cancer,” Schulman said. “And another who passed at 17.”

 

Before beginning their shave, the two held their hands high.

“Some of our friends have done it, too,” McCormick said. “Or showed support through donations, or anyway they can.”

Currently, volunteers have raised nearly $17,000.

But the organization has bigger plans later this year.

In September, Dotts said, the group hopes to host another Long Beach Shaves for Kids that is more open to the public.

And they aim to host multiple shaving sites across the city. That’s bound to cause plenty of buzz around town.

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