NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The North Plainfield Firefighters will host their 13th annual family-friendly St. Baldrick’s Day Fundraiser at the Lincoln Place firehouse on Saturday, March 19.
As of press time, more than 100 ‘shavees’ – including men, women and children from the borough and surrounding communities in Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties – are expected to shave their head as a symbol and statement of solidarity with children with cancer. Proceeds from the event will benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation (http://www.stbaldricks.org), a volunteer organization dedicated to raising funds for lifesaving childhood cancer research.
Every three minutes a child in the world is diagnosed with cancer; one in five of those children will not survive. The St. Baldrick’s’ Foundation coordinates its signature head-shaving events worldwide, where volunteers get bald to stand in solidarity with kids with cancer and raise money to support lifesaving childhood cancer research.
“Kids battling cancer have this disease through no fault of their own. They battle it so bravely and without self-pity. They just know they don't want to be sick. They fight and fight and it is inspiring,” said North Plainfield Fire Captain Rob Beattie, a ‘shavee’ himself and member of the department for 25 years. “Shaving your head is such an easy thing to do to make a true impact and a big difference.”
The North Plainfield Firefighters held their first St. Baldrick’s Day fundraiser in 2004 and, back then, a small group of North Plainfield firefighters and police officers participated raising almost $25,000.
“We first became involved with the organization when one of our firefighters read about the fundraiser in a trade magazine and threw it out as a challenge within the firehouse. We started looking for a place to go to and decided to do it on our own,” Beattie said, adding, “It quickly became a North Plainfield tradition and we haven’t missed a year since.”
Since 2004, participation and support has grown. Close to 100 people now take part each year, and over the past 13 years, the North Plainfield fundraiser has raised approximately $900,000 for the foundation. “Its humbling. We set it up every year and every year we are just blown away by the support we receive,” Beattie said. “It’s amazing how generous people are.”
In addition to North Plainfield firefighters, emergency personnel and police, this year’s event is set to include participants from BCC Paramedic Science, Franklin Township Fire District 1, Green Brook Fire EMS, Monroe Township Firefighters IAFF 3170, and the Mount Bethel Fire Department in Warren, along with members of the South Plainfield, Westfield, and Woodbridge Township fire departments.
And participation isn’t inclusive of just emergency services members. Each year, residents, teachers, and business members from Edison, Green Brook, South Plainfield, Warren, and Watchung, among others, take part. Among them is Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-Somerset) who, according to Beattie, has been a huge supporter for a number of years. Additionally, barbers and hairdressers from throughout North Plainfield and other communities volunteer their time to the cause.
“St. Baldrick’s head-shaving events like the one hosted by the North Plainfield Fire Department provide a platform where members of the community can gather to shave their heads in solidarity with kids with cancer and raise money for lifesaving childhood cancer research,” said Traci Shirk, a representative for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. “Money raised at events like this go to support the brightest experts in the pediatric cancer field working to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers.”
Through donations, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation funds lifesaving research across the globe. According to Beattie, nearly $.80 of every $1 raised is used to fund clinical trials, fellowships, grants and other research associated with all types of childhood cancers.
“All the money goes directly to funding meaningful science in pursuit of a cure for pediatric cancers as well as treating the long-term side effects and deficiencies and improving the quality of life of those who beat cancer,” he said.
On a local front, the foundation has awarded research grants to Hackensack University Medical Center (affiliated with Tomorrows Children's Institute), Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, Atlantic Health System (affiliated with Goryeb Children's Hospital at Morristown Medical Center), Children's Hospital at Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick, the Newark-based University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, and Children's Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.
“We are so thankful to have the ongoing support of the North Plainfield Fire Department,” said Shirk. “They are true heroes on and off the clock.”
The North Plainfield Firefighters 13th Annual St. Baldrick’s Fundraising Day is scheduled for Saturday, March 19 from 1 p.m. until the last head is bald. Registration opens at noon. The event will also include silent auction and guest speakers. Additionally, T-shirts unique to the North Plainfield fundraiser will be available for purchase.
“The community welcomed this fundraiser wholeheartedly and we really enjoy doing it. We are glad to be able to raise money for a really good cause,” Beattie said, adding, “This is something everybody should see for themselves. The people who come out to shave their heads are brave. Almost everyone is connected somehow or someway because someone they know and love is affected by cancer.”
To sign up as a ‘shavee,’ to make a donation or to sponsor someone who is having their head shaved, go to; https://www.stbaldricks.org/events/NPlainfieldFD2016.
Checks, made payable to the ‘St. Baldrick’s Foundation,’ may also be brought to fire headquarters on the day of the event. All donations dropped off at the firehouse should be placed in a sealed envelope and marked to Captain Beattie’s attention. Online, mailed in or telephone donations will also be accepted for several months after the event.
For additional information on the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, visit www.StBaldricks.org. You can also follow the organization on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo.
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