St. Baldrick’s event in Shelton is a success: Getting shaved for a cause

Downtown Danny O’s was packed Saturday afternoon for a St. Baldrick’s Day event organized by Shelton’s Huntington Volunteer Fire Company.

More than 30 people had signed up to have their heads shaved at the downtown establishment by stylists from Panache Hair Design on Bridgeport Avenue. Dozens of their friends and family members joined firefighters to offer their moral support and cheer on the “shavees.”

Fund-raising goal

Huntington firefighter Mark Starzecki, one of the event’s organizers, said the $10,000 goal was within reach as the event got underway. The fire company’s first St. Baldrick’s event in 2012 raised about $7,500, doubling that year’s initial goal.

“This helps kids going through cancer know they are not alone,” said Starzecki, who was among those having their heads shaved for the charitable cause.

A local inspiration

One of the inspirations for the Shelton fund-raising event was James Haefele, a 7-year-old Shelton resident who is battling cancer. He attended the event with his family, and his father Jim and step-brother Ethan were among the first people to have their heads shaved.

The nonprofit St. Baldrick’s Foundation has raised more than $100 million to fight children’s cancer through the head-shaving events since 1999.

The name is related to St. Patrick’s Day because the first event was organized by three Irish-American executives in New York City took place on the Irish heritage celebration day.

Growing hair for the event

Joey Tassitano, another Huntington firefighter who was getting his head shaved, said he had avoided getting a haircut for awhile in preparation for the event. “I’ve been growing it out for two months,” Tassitano said. “It’s never been this long.”

Ryan Mattioli, a first lieutenant at the fire company, thought the event was going well. “My guys get a great job pulling this together,” said Mattioli, adding that the participation of firefighters from Shelton’s other three volunteer departments helped make it a success.

Many can relate to the cause

Matt Lawrence, Huntington Fire Company captain, had signed up to get shaved. “Even my grandmother gave money,” he said of his sponsors.

Lawrence has two young children and can relate to how the St. Baldrick’s program assists youngsters with cancer because one of his own has medical issues. “You try to do what you can as parents and adults to help,” he said. “It’s all about the kids.”

Organizers thanked the stylists from Panache for donating their time, and Danny  O’s for donating food and the space.