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St. Baldrick’s looks for support while poking fun at Irish mythology

Typically, the average Las Vegan sees fewer than three leprechauns annually, with peak leprechaun-spotting season being mid-March. At 8 a.m. on Feb. 13, the organizers of Lepre-Con at Town Square Las Vegas, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. South, hope to bring thousands of leprechauns together to get a place in the Guinness World Records and to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

The current record of 1,263 participants was established on March 17, 2012, at an event organized by Bandon, Ireland. Although Ireland is a more common location for leprechauns, Las Vegas has the advantage of having a large number of community members who are willing to do some unusual things to help out a charity.

“We’re hoping to blow that number out of the water with 2,000 to 3,000 leprechauns,” said Dawn Marie Pavuk with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and director of business development at Cure 4 the Kids Foundation. “Several of our Cirque du Soleil friends are going to come out and be acrobatic leprechauns. We’ll have a hooping leprechaun and a hand-balancing leprechaun. We’ve got one that will be on stilts, so we’ll have a really tall leprechaun.”

While the method may be silly, the reason for the fundraising event isn’t. The foundation raises money for kids with cancer. It is a volunteer-powered charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long, healthy lives.

The foundation raises money to help out children such as Kaila Elder, 12, who just finished treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma, and Avery Driscoll, 12, who recently underwent brain surgery after learning her cancer had returned. The two are set to be honored at the event.

“I just finished my treatment on Dec. 17,” said Kaila. “It was like an early Christmas present.”

While her prognosis is good, there are still years to go before she is considered out of the woods regarding her health.

“We have to go in quarterly for MRI and CAT scans to make sure there are no flare-ups or any cancer that had been undetected before,” said Kaila’s mother, Tammy Elder. “We also have to go in for lab work every month. If everything is clear after five years of that, she’ll be considered completely cancer-free.”

Registration for the event is $35 and includes a hat, a shirt and a beard, along with a beer at the Beer Garden for those 21 or older. Participants must bring their own black pants as part of the costume and to be counted. The leprechauns can participate in a 5K run or 1K fun walk, and everyone is invited to warm up with a group Irish jig.

The event also is set to include a kids’ activity corner and musical performances by several bands, including the Black Donnellys, an Irish band that has moved to America and includes Guinness World Records holder Dave Browne, who holds the record for marathon guitar playing.

Visit lepre-con.stbaldricks.org or stbaldricks.org, or call 888-899-2253.

— To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email ataylor@viewnews.com or call 702-380-4532.

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