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Jeanne Sager | Democrat

SPURRED ON BY 8-year-old Ethan Tesseyman’s (front) excitement, his brother Michael, 12, and dad Michael joined in to shave, making Saturday a family event for the Callicoon residents. Mom Lori watched, but kept her blonde hair.

St. Baldrick's event is the biggest yet

By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY – March 18, 2008 — If you’ve got to go bald, this is the way to go.
In front of a raucous crowd digging deep into their wallets to help find a cure for cancer.
The third St. Baldrick’s head-shaving held in the county went off without a hitch Saturday – with 72 “shavees” the biggest yet.
Begun nine years ago by a trio of reinsurance executives in New York City looking to do some good on St. Patrick’s Day, the mission of St. Baldrick’s is to eradicate children’s cancer.
The four-year-old St. Baldrick’s Foundation takes the money raised at shaving events across the country ($34 million at last count) and awards grants to oncology researchers.
Their chief beneficiary is the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a conglomeration of more than 200 institutions in the country working to cure cancer.
That’s what hooked Fay Cerullo.
The protocol developed by COG researchers was used by oncologists to save Ryan Cerullo, the elder of the Liberty St. Baldrick’s organizer’s two sons.
A cancer survivor herself, Fay said the second time the disease hit home, she had to act.
Last year’s St. Baldrick’s, her first effort, raised more than $15,000.
This year, preliminary tallies are at $19,000, but the totals are still rising – and donations are still being accepted.
Bigger too was the representation of communities from around the county.
Primarily attracting folks from the Cerullos’ hometown last year, Saturday’s event at the Liberty Firehouse brought in families from Callicoon, Rotarians from Livingston Manor, a brand new dad from Neversink and dozens more.
Narrowsburg youngster Anthony Dos Santos decided he had to match his sister Elizabeth’s recent donation of hair to Locks of Love.
With mom Nancy volunteering as one of the four barbers shaving heads, the 10-year-old kept a grin plastered across his face while she buzzed her way around his noggin.
The shavee list was heavy with kids – many of them friends of Ryan Cerullo and his younger brother, Dillon, who let his own hair grow into an unruly mop in the weeks working up to the big day.
Also on the list were three women – a rare sight at St. Baldrick’s.
Stephanie Watson of Liberty shaved her head last year after losing a friend to cancer, and she was back for a second helping.
“People kept thinking I had cancer, but they wouldn’t come up to me,” Watson said of the days after her last event. “They would ask people in my family – I got an idea of what the cancer survivors go through.”
Mary Edwards of Youngsville lost her shoulder-length brown locks Saturday in memory of niece Amy Paes, who she lost at 10 years old to cancer.
A civilian who works in the commissary at Eastern Correctional Facility, Edwards said she’s prepared for the ribbing she’s going to take.
“They all think I’m crazy at work,” she said with a grin. “But it’s something I always wanted to do – this year it just hit me that I could do it.”
There were a lot of acts done in memory or in honor of a cancer victim. Others were done just out of the goodness of people’s hearts.
“My heart really goes out to kids with cancer,” said Gary Carlson, one of the members of the Manor contingent. “It’s just so unfair – they don’t really have a chance to start in life.
“It’s like a knife in the heart.”
Mark Moore of Neversink was bleary-eyed but present Saturday morning after spending the night with his wife as she gave birth to their second child, a daughter – Natalie.
With the elder of his two girls, Julia, watching, Ireland-born Moore said it was the best way he could think of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day – albeit an unusual one.
“It’s not the usual way,” he said with a boisterous laugh. “I’m sober for a start!
Turning serious, he glanced at Julia.
“It’s an excellent cause – having two children, it’s one that means a lot.”
Two years after having his head shaved so doctors could remove a cancerous brain tumor, Saturday meant a lot to John Ognibene.
The Liberty teen is working on his college degree to become a radiology technician and catch tumors like his.
Ognibene took a long look around the room, taking in not just the people like him who’d gone bald but the people selling raffles, serving cake and counting cash.
“It’s really inspiring,” he said with a shy smile. “That people actually care. . .”
Donations are still being accepted at For information, call Fay Cerullo at 292-2085.

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