WEST ORANGE, NJ - When West Caldwell resident Kevin Kinney first began raising money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, he had no idea how far his efforts would lead or how close he was tied to the cause.
Now, nine years later, what once raised about $12,000 among Kinney and a few friends, is now set to raise more than $660,000 and counting for cures for childhood cancer.
On Saturday, Kinney and about 300 members of the community, once again met at The Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh Club in West Orange to "Brave the Shave for Kids with Cancer," via the ninth annual St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraiser. At the event, barbers from JT’s Barbershop in Verona and the David Chad Beauty Parlor in Caldwell, shaved 40 heads in solidarity of children going through cancer treatments including those of two women, Meghan Kowalik of Flanders and Anne Cepeda Spring of West Orange, and six children. In addition, the whole Egan family—the dad and three boys from Caldwell also joined in.
Before the event began, $37,000 had already been raised online. Once the checks and cash collected on July 18, along with corporate matches and other donations are tallied, Kinney expects to have raised about $60,000—bringing the total amount raised by these nine West Orange-based events to around $660,000. Click HERE to make a donation.
When Kinney first embarked on this path, he didn’t realize how close a connection he had to the charity and the cause.
“I saw a photo on the St. Baldrick website of a beautiful little girl with cancer and I was really moved,” he said. “I immediately said that I wanted to raise money to honor her. When I mentioned this to a friend, he pointed out that the little girl was actually the niece of a former high school classmate of mine. Once I heard this, I was even more inspired to help.”
The little girl was Kathleen Brennan, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of two, relapsed at five, and according to Kinney, “is 13 and doing great now.”
“Kathleen comes back to our event with her family every year,” said Kinney.
Aside from raising much-needed monies to find cures for pediatric cancers, the event also offered a chance for attendees to mingle, dine of foods donated by local venues, listen to music donated by the South Park and District Pipe Band of South Orange, the Poor Man’s Opera, the Will O’Connor Live Acoustic Show and Brass Illusions, with members from West Orange and Livingston, and watch Irish dancing by the dancers from the DeNogla Irish Dance School in Verona.
In addition, more than 50 raffle items, including golf bags, coolers, and gift certificates provided by local stores, restaurants and businesses were awarded to attendees.
“I am overwhelmed by all of the generosity of so much food and prizes, without which it would be so much harder to raise all of this money for St. Baldrick’s,” said Kinney. “I feel really blessed. The local community couldn’t be nicer and it is the engine that drives this event. I would also like to give a big shout out to The Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh Club, which really steps up and makes these events go off without a hitch each year.”
Funds raised will continue to provide research grants to doctors and scientists at more than 200 institutions to pursue new cures for childhood cancer, in addition to making more clinical trials available to children.
To date, more than $135 million has been raised through St. Baldrick’s Fundraisers.