'Leatherheads' raise over $20,000 for cancer fight
By Gary Popp
Published in News on March 28, 2011 1:46 PM
Shane Thompson, a member of the Indian Springs Volunteer Fire Department, gets a close shave by Michelle Hill at the Flying Shamrock on Saturday night.
More than $20,000 was raised for children's cancer research Saturday night as nearly a hundred people shaved their heads in an auction-style event held at a bustling Flying Shamrock on John Street.
The Fraternal Order Of Leatherheads (F.O.O.L.S.) teamed up with the St. Baldrick's Foundation for the fundraiser that put many Wayne County firefighters, emergency medical services workers and airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base under the clipper and raising money.
F.O.O.L.S. is an organization of firefighters comprised of chapters around the world that builds camaraderie among firefighters and often participates in charitable events.
Goldsboro firefighter Chad Cobb served as emcee and tempted onlookers to bid on the "shavees" while they received their close cuts.
"There are so many kids locally who are affected by this disease," Cobb said. "It is just a way of showing that it is an issue and that there are people in the community trying to support the families of children with cancer," Cobb said.
With nearly double the number of shavees, Cobb said the event has grown in popularity number since it's inauguration last year.
"I was very pleased with the amount of people who showed up," Cobb said. "I would like to thank everyone that came out -- the community, the local business and the hair dressers that came out to help."
The majority of the shavees pre-registered online, but walk-ups wanting to help raise money also were welcome.
Cobb provoked onlookers to keep donating as shavees offered up eyebrows and mustaches after losing their hair.
At times, a shavee would lose one eyebrow or half a mustache then Cobb would demand the crowd offer up more money to finish the job.
Chad Cobb's wife, Rosalie Cobb, was another organizer and the first of three women to take a turn under the clipper.
Mrs. Cobb, a paramedic with Wayne County EMS, said Mr. Cobb and herself have worked really hard with others to put the event together.
Mrs. Cobb said she is personally motivated to take part in the effort to raise money for childhood cancers.
"It was in my heart to want to help," she said, "When my niece was 3 years old, she was diagnosed with cancer. Now she is 18 and cancer free."
Mr. and Mrs. Cobb said they would like to make the fundraiser an annual event .
Wilson firefighter and president of the Eastern North Carolina F.O.O.L.S. Wes Thorton also helped put the event together.
"We had an excellent showing from fire departments across Wayne County and Wayne County EMS," Thorton said. "We even had doctors from Wayne Memorial Hospital."
"Our job on the fire department is to give back to the public. This is just another way of doing that," Thorton said.
Thirteen-year-old Tyler Underwood raised a whopping $1,400 for the event.
The son of Goldsboro firefighter, T.J. Underwood, Tyler is a straight-A student at Norwayne Middle School and lives with a chromosome abnormality.
Tyler said he raised the significant sum by talking to members of his church community and his friends at Thera-Peds and Crossroads Support Services.
"It was awesome, really crazy," Tyler said from under a buzzed dome that recently carried shoulder-length locks.
Tyler is undecided if he will shave his head in future for charity, but he is glad to have participated
"It felt like happiness," said Tyler, "It feels good to help people."
Another participant was El Roy firefighter Donald Riggs who was all smiles under his freshly shaven skull.
"A bunch of guys at the fire department are with F.O.O.L.S. and they encouraged me to do it," Riggs said. "It seemed like a good thing, and I wanted to be part of it."
Riggs has been with the El Roy department for only eight months and looked especially boyish with his new do.
"It will grow back. It is a small price to pay and it might encourage other people to do it," Riggs said.
Kinston firefighter Mike Scrufari was able to bring $100 to go bald and another $100 to lose his mustache he had for eight months.
"I really didn't expect to lose my mustache," Scrufari said.
Like many of the others, Scrufari said he was motivated to raise money to provide as much of a service to the public as possible.
"(Firefighters) want to take care of he people no matter what," Scrufari said. "Going through St. Balderick's is a great way to help."
Hair stylists from Mystiques Salon and Fringe Salon worked in shifts to keeps the clippers buzzing, cutting the hair of up to four shavees at a time.
Stylist Heather Weeks, of Fringe Salon, said she was not able to participate in the last year, but had been looking forward to this year's marathon clipping session for many months.
"It is incredible to see everyone so eager to help," Ms. Weeks said. "It is good to see everybody come out and be so excited."
Weeks and the other stylists worked in front a crowd of onlookers who huddled and hollered with the fervor of an audience at a rock concert.
"I had no idea it would be so busy," Ms. Weeks said.