Caz School District Staffers, Students Prepare for ‘Ultimate’ Haircut

Caz_Baldricks for webA handful of Cazenovia Central School District’s St. Baldrick’s volunteers pose for a “before” picture. Top row (from left): Cazenovia High School Principal Eric Schnabl, social studies teacher Joe Schettine, physical education teacher Brian Ellithorpe, art teacher Adam Reynolds and science teacher Sean Kelly. Bottom row (from left): business teacher John Dermody, teaching assistant Debbie Kutik, maintenance department employee Bill Poglitsh, Erin Kelly and Christopher Kelly.

(Cazenovia, NY – March 15, 2014) When it comes to fundraising, most do-gooders offer to do something in return for donations: run, walk, dance, etc. Others offer to sell you something: cookies, candles, wrapping paper, etc.

But those who participate in the annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser for pediatric cancer research, offer an entirely different proposition: They pledge to lose something.

Their hair.

And in Cazenovia Central Schools, there’ll be plenty of losing.

At last count, 18 district employees, at least 30 students and one Board of Education member were signed up to have their heads shaved March 16 – to not only raise money to fund research into childhood cancer, but also to stand in solidarity with children who lose their hair from cancer treatment.

The Cazenovia event – one of 1,122 scheduled around the world so far this year – will take place at 12:30 p.m. March 16 at Cazenovia American Legion Hall Post No. 88, located at 26 Chenango St. Organized by Cazenovia High School science teacher Sean Kelly, the local event has increased its fundraising goal several times, as more and more volunteers joined and started banging the donation drum.

At this writing, the event had raised 84.5 percent of its most recent goal of $30,000.

“We still have four days to go, and donations continue to come in to the website,” Kelly said Thursday. “Not to mention the high school English department, which is collecting donations from students; high school secretary Julie Mattina, who is selling St. Baldrick’s bracelets; Burton Street Elementary School, where students are bringing in cash for the privilege of wearing a hat all day Friday; and a huge bake sale that will take place at the event on Sunday!”

Kelly will be shaving his head for the third time, along with wife Erin Kelly and their son, Christopher, a 9-year-old third-grader at Burton Street Elementary.

First-time shavee Beth Ryan, a teaching assistant at Burton Street Elementary (and one of the event’s top three fundraisers), said she’s excited at the prospect of helping to fight children’s cancer.

“This is definitely something very near and dear to my heart, as a 16-month-old boy who is close to my family was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago,” Ryan said. “Also, Nathaniel Henry, a courageous student at Burton Street, is going through cancer as we speak. I shave my head for these wonderful children, as well as ALL the children. It is so important to keep funding for research so more innocent children can be cured as our friend has been!”

Julie Mattina, on the other hand, has never had to experience the threat of cancer in her family. Her gratitude for that fact prompted her to volunteer as a shavee.

“I am extremely grateful to be able to say that,” Mattina said in a letter she sent to family and friends. “When I read up on the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, not only did I learn about this wonderful organization, but I learned that every three minutes a child is

diagnosed with cancer and one in five will not survive.”

The foundation has awarded $127 million in grants since 2005 – nearly $25 million in 2013 alone – to more than 215 children’s hospitals throughout the United States.

Debbie Kutik, a high school teaching assistant who also works as a private-duty nurse, is another first-time shavee. She said she had no qualms about lopping off her curly brown bob.

“It’s easy to do it for the kids,” Kutik said. “I’m excited. I can’t wait.”

Another first-time participant (and top fundraiser) is Nettie Goeler, who works as a speech/language pathologist at all three Cazenovia schools. She was inspired by her husband, who is considered a “Knight of the Bald Table” because he has shaved at least seven times.

“I was a little nervous at first,” Goeler admitted. “But I’ve seen the women and students from my synagogue, and they all looked beautiful! Now I can’t wait. No more fussing with my hair and no more bad hair days! Plus, I have several hats that I only wear to synagogue, and now I can wear them to school.”

Brian Ellithorpe, physical education teacher, stopped cutting his hair two weeks before Christmas to up his “shag factor” and add to the drama of going bald.

Joe Schettine, high school social studies teacher, said he has taught several students with cancer over the years, and has been affected by their bravery. One student received virtual classroom lessons while undergoing treatment at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse.

“I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet who hasn’t known someone affected by cancer,” Schettine said. “People helping people – it’s powerful stuff.”



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