Santa Paula Police Officer Chad Peplinski (top left photo) has his hair shaved off at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser. Not much left on the head after his head was shaved. The event was Sunday. Santa Paula Firefighter Austin Macias (top right) laughs as his hair is shaved off at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser. The St. Baldrick’s fundraiser is held annually at the Four Points Sheraton in Ventura. (Photo bottom left) Santa Paula Police Officers left to right with shaved heads are: Scott Varner, Shane Norwood, Chad Peplinski and Jeremy Watson. These officers and others spent time raising money to help kids. St. Baldrick’s Foundation raises funds to help kids conquer cancer. To donate to help kids with cancer go to the web, www.StBaldricks.org. (Bottom right) Santa Paula Firefighters left to right with shaved heads are: David Leon, Matt Klein, Austin Macias, Terry Bell and Jonathan Cowan. There were five other firefighters that had to work or had other commitments and could not participate at the event. Alex Horton, Dustin Lazenby, Jesse Phillips, Steve Lazenby and Arturo Casillas all had our heads shaved at the Santa Paula fire station.

St. Baldrick’s Foundation: Shaving the Way to Conquer Kids’ Cancer

March 30, 2011
Santa Paula News

It was sure a great time to be shorn, members of the Santa Paula Fire and Police departments learned when they gave their all - at least all on their heads - at Sunday’s St. Baldrick’s Foundation Conquer Kids Cancer Shave Off. The event held at Ventura’s Four Points Sheraton Hotel drew more than 100 participants from throughout the county who gathered pledges from supporters in return for their head shaves, with all funds raised going toward children’s cancer research and programs.

It was the third year that Santa Paula public safety personnel participated in the event that started as a St. Patrick’s Day whim on March 17, 2000 when three friends turned a party into a head-shaving event to benefit kids with cancer. Their initial 20 “shavee” recruits planned to raise “$17,000 on the 17th.” Instead, they raised more than $104,000.

The movement quickly grew into the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer research, and today the St. Baldrick’s Foundation funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government.

Santa Paula Fire Department Capt. Steve Lazenby said although there were firefighters participating at the event in Ventura, others, “about five or six of us that couldn’t go, had our heads shaved anyway” at Station 81. Handling the shears was SPFD Engineer Carlos Arana: “He did not allow his head to be shaved, but he did do us,” an act Lazenby said was to show support for St. Baldrick’s in “solidarity” with firefighters at the event.

The Santa Paula Firefighters Association donated $500, and Firefighter Reserve Arturo Casillas raised “$1,270 by himself, and even he couldn’t go, had other obligations,” but came by the station to have his head shaved. Lazenby said he looks forward to participating again next year: “It irritates my wife enough that I’ll do it!”

Team Captain Chad Peplinski, a Santa Paula Police Reserve Officer, said the team members “had a great time and it was a great event” that raised money for a very worthy cause. Donations including cash and checks given directly to participants are still being tallied, but Peplinski believes Santa Paula Police participants raised “probably somewhere between $3,000 or $4,000.”

The total will be added to the pledges received by firefighters. Last year the Santa Paula public safety team raised the most of any other St. Baldrick’s participating group.

Peplinski said this year he didn’t do anything special, at least hair-wise: “This year I didn’t let it grow out at all... I don’t know how long it will take to grow back, I hope not too long.” He calculates he’ll be due another, regular haircut in about two months, but the shave is secondary: “I did it because it’s for the kids,” the primary reason Peplinski got involved to begin with.

Senior Officer Jeremy Watson expects it might take “an entire year for my hair to grow back since I’m balding... it’s not like I usually have long hair to begin with.... It will probably take two to three weeks to get back to what I normally look like.”

But like others who are shorn for St. Baldrick’s, it’s for the kids, and that goes even beyond raising money. “It’s very honorable to shave your head, makes these little children feel they’re not different from anybody else” after undergoing chemotherapy treatment and losing their own hair. “When the kids lose their hair they feel different, and by shaving our heads we make them feel they are not different,” which eases the children’s sense of isolation, shows them support and lifts their spirits.

Watson said his support of St. Baldrick’s Foundation is also in honor of the grandfather he lost to cancer. “It is for a good cause... nobody wants to see a child suffer, and the more support you can give” by donating funds for research and other programs “is a good thing.” And that includes shaving your head to show a child you’re all in this together.

St Baldrick’s - which holds head-shaving events internationally - had more than 800 volunteer hosted shaving events last year, shaving 38,278 heads. So far in 2011, the foundation has raised almost $18 million.

For information about St. Baldrick’s, call 888-899-BALD or visit http://www.stbaldricks.org.





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