St. Baldrick’s event cleans up for for charity

A bruising recession didn’t stop the intrepid characters who gathered Saturday for the third annual St. Baldrick’s head shave fundraiser to help fight childhood cancer. And I do mean characters.

  McMullan’s Irish Pub on Tropicana Avenue overflowed with generous locals who came to shave or just donate. This year’s event expanded to Quinn’s Pub inside the Green Valley Ranch, and the doubled effort helped offset the challenges of attempting to gather worthy funds in the middle of a recession.

  My remarkable daughter Amelia, herself a brain cancer survivor, once again did the honors by taking the electric clippers to my noggin. She’s getting good at it: Not a drop of blood was spilled, and I departed with both ears still more or less in place.

  KVBC’s Kevin Janison gave Amelia high marks for her buzzing skills, and one chair over Dr. Jonathan Bernstein, the noted local oncologist, was treated to a clipping by one of his patients, 4-year-old Ethan Freer.

  Ethan weaved through the early evening crowd like a champ with his father Ben in constant pursuit. Dressed in his pajamas, with a medical mask dwarfing his sweet face, Ethan was bald before he came through the door of the childhood cancer fundraiser.

  Ben serves in the 15th Recon Squadron at Creech Air Force Base. His partners at the base joined in a shave fundraiser for Ethan in November.

  Ethan is under going treatment from Dr. Bernstein for a neuroblastoma tumor. Dr. Bernstein is a hero to many of the families in the room, mine included.

  Ethan was feeling well enough to participate in the event — especially when he learned he’d get to help shave the head of his favorite doctor.

  With Ben, mother RyAnn, and sisters Brenna and Natalie looking on, Ethan did an excellent job on Dr. B.

  That little boy has already under gone eight rounds of chemotherapy. His family remains hopeful and grateful.

  “It’s amazing. It’s wonderful,” mother RyAnn said. It was the family’s first event. “The pediatric oncology world is small. You meet these people and you get to build friendships and relationships. Any time the community supports any one of us, it’s just a blessing. It’s wonderful to see awareness being raised for pediatric cancer.”

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Across the generations, but sharing the same spirit on Saturday night, Michael Harvey and his wife, Penny, waited in line to sign in for his shaving. It would be Michael’s first since he served as a Marine in Vietnam.

  “I figure if Amelia can shave your head, I can shave mine,” Michael said proudly.

  Afterward, Penny kept her sense of humor about her husband’s new ’do.

“It looks different,” she said, laughing. “I think he looks good. The event was a first for me. I thought it was wonderful.”

Michael added, “I love it. I love it. I loved the event. It was great, and everyone seemed to be having a great time.”

Raised on ranches in central Nevada, 64-year-old Michael recalled getting a buzz cut when he went to boot camp in 1962.

  Something tells me he’ll be back next year.

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