SERGEANTSVILLE, NJ – State Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset, Middlesex, Mercer, Hunterdon) and state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16th) sat side-by-side yesterday at the Sergeantsville Volunteer Fire Company to get a no-frills haircut.
Nothing fancy, no clipping, no styling, and no comb or scissors were necessary.
“It took about three minutes,” Bateman said.
The longtime 16th District lawmakers had their hair shorn Sunday to help raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a national charity that raises money for childhood cancer research.
Ciattarelli and Bateman were joined by more than two dozen other "shavees" on the Rays of Hope team sponsored by the Sergeantsville Volunteer Fire Company.
“What better cause is there than raising awareness and funding for research into childhood cancer,” Ciattarelli said.
“Childhood cancer and research is a very serious topic, but this is a great way for everybody to have some fun, raise money and awareness,” he added.
This was the first year Bateman participated. He said it was long overdue.
His daughter Kate, now 22, was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma when she was 18 months old. Doctors were forced to remove one of her eyes.
It is a cancer that starts in the retina, the very back part of the eye and is the most common type of eye cancer in children.
“I carried her into the operating room,” Bateman said. “It was a tough time for the family.”
This is the fourth year Ciattarelli has participated in the event.
Ciattarelli is also a cancer survivor; it was almost one year ago that he was diagnosed with throat cancer, just as he had announced his Republican Primary campaign for Governor; he was forced to take time off from campaigning to receive treatment. He had his lymph nodes removed in November, and underwent chemotherapy beginning in January.
Ciattarelli, Bateman and other members of the Rays of Hope team raise money through pledges received on the St. Baldrick’s website - https://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/870871/2016.
Bateman and Ciattarelli’s goal is to each raise $2,000.
“Five, ten dollars, whatever people can afford, it all adds up,” Ciattarelli said.
The Sergeantsville event has raised more than $220,000 in five years.
The event is held in honor of Rayanna Marrero, a Sergeantsville resident known as Ray, who succumbed to cancer in 2012 at the age of eight. Sergeantsville is part of Delaware Township, one of 14 municipalities in the 16th Legislative District represented by Ciattarelli and Bateman.
“This is the least I can do to further that goal and honor the memory of Rayanna Marerro.” Ciattarelli said.
“When you think about it, anyone going through cancer, let alone a child, this is the least we can do,” Ciattarelli continued. “In six, eight weeks, I’ll have a full head of hair, it will grow back; I don’t see this as a sacrifice at all.
“It is a heart-breaking statistic, but every two minutes another family hears the life-changing news that their child has cancer,” Ciattarelli added. “Each year, more than 300,000 children worldwide have their world turned upside down by acancer diagnosis and find themselves literally fighting for their lives.
“Kids with cancer need our help,” he continued. “Only four percent of federal cancer funding is dedicated to childhood research, and in the last 20 years, only three new drugs have been developed to treat kids with cancer. With grants to the most promising researchers in the field, the goal is to improve detection and treatment options, and to help save young lives.”
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation held the first head-shaving fundraiser in 2000, and more than 1,000 events are scheduled this year. The foundation has provided more than $25 million in grants for childhood cancer research.