By Samantha Pidde
Herald Staff Writer
The DeWitt Community Center was filled with a sea of green Saturday as people turned out for the Just Irish Enough Parade and St. Baldrick’s event to raise funds for children’s cancer research.
Organizer Jennifer Naeve estimated that at least 80 people signed up to have their heads shaved.
Naeve felt this year’s event had fewer shavees, but each shavee was raising more money this year.
As of Friday night, $18,000 had been raised online for the event. Naeve said Saturday that a lot of the donations would be turned in that day.
“The response this year has been amazing,” Rachael Vopatek, a member of the planning committee, said. She pointed out that this year’s event had many first-time shavees and had 11 females participating.
Theresa Boisen, of Clinton, signed up to have her head shaved for the first time, along with her son, Lane Boisen. They are a part of the six-member Team Kids Rock from Clinton. Boisen said the team raised $3,000 for the event in 10 days.
She added that she did not realize how nice she would feel being a part of the event.
Knowing people who have struggled with cancer, Boisen felt she had to do something.
“Shaving my head is my choice,” Boisen said. “The kids who have the cancer don’t get a choice.”
Several of the teams taking part in the head shaving were participating in support or in memory of someone who has or had cancer. Joseph Burken, 6, and his father, Wade Burken, were two of the first group to get their heads shaved as part of Team Joseph. Joseph is currently cancer-free after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Wade and Julie Burken told the crowd about Joseph’s struggle through chemotherapy to treat his inoperable tumor.
“As some of these parents have shared, the worst thing you can hear is ‘your son has cancer,’” Wade said.
Before the head shaving began, moments of silence were given in memory of Brittney Everhart and Mollie Enwright, who died as the result of cancer. Kelly Everhart spoke about the courage her daughter shared and Amanda Cook spoke about her good friend Enwright.
“I miss her. I miss her every single day. But if I learned anything from Mollie it was to never give up, to always have a positive attitude and to fight until the end and to laugh, laugh a lot,” Cook said.
Connie Dell shared her son Tanner’s recent struggle with bone cancer and Dottie Burrichter spoke about her great-nephew Owen Burrichter, 4, who was recently diagnosed with brain and spinal cord cancer. A group of friends and family was participating as the team Buzz for Owen.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a childhood cancer charity funding research to help find cures for kids with cancer. For more information on the foundation, visit www.stbaldricks.org.