By Colin Knechtl and Korinne Utting
Two eleven-year-olds became the top contributors for a fundraiser benefiting childhood cancer on Saturday, by shaving their heads to help Fulton’s Gate Irish Pub exceed its $6,000 goal.
The event contributed over $8,000 to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity that raises money and awareness for children with cancer. This is the first time the pub surpassed its goal in the three years that it has been hosting the fundraiser, due largely in part to the two sixth-graders, Daclan Lukowski and Kyle Toscanini.
“I want to help end this disease, because I know it takes lots of people every year, so I decided to sign up for it,” Lukowski said. He raised over $2,200 and dyed his hair blue before he shaved it, in honor of a relative who passed away from colon cancer.
“I’m probably going to do it every year,” Toscanini said. Inspired by his best friend, Toscanini raised $1,300 to shave his head too.
His mom, Jennifer Toscanini, told of her son’s enthusiasm for the event. “He came home and said, ‘can I shave my head for childhood cancer mom? Because some kids get really sick and they don’t ever get better,’” she said. “I am so unbelievably proud of him, it’s such a wonderful feeling to see that your child cares that much.”
The charity promotes similar shaving events throughout March every year.
“We want to not only be able to cure all childhood cancer one day, but also make sure during the treatments kids have, that they’re not suffering from side effects,” Cristine Lovato, media manager for the foundation, said. “People from all different ages and backgrounds come together for one common cause.”
A few years ago, it was revealed that organizations were spending more money on their administrative and internal fees than they were donating to cancer research. In 2012, Susan G. Komen for the Cure came under scrutiny for only donating around 20 percent of its funds to cancer research. St. Baldrick’s donates 77 percent of its funds, according to Charity Navigator.
An integral element to these events are the professionals who donate their time to shave hair.
“It makes me happy, it’s good to just do good things for people sometimes,” Kristine Murillo, a hairstylist, said. She owns Fedora Lounge, a hair salon in Port Jefferson. “There’s really nothing not to like about it.”
While having no hair might seem like a big adjustment to some, others are honored to show their support.
“I think people have a fear of shaving their head because they are so exposed to what they look like in public,” Brian Caffrey said. Caffrey’s a nurse at Stony Brook University Hospital and works with pediatric cancer patients four days each week.
For Lukowski’s mother, Kerry, the event is an emotional one. “I was literally in tears, the whole place was clapping and cheering.”