By Jenni Culkin
A line of students from Commack High School trailed from the school’s gymnasium doors to the next hallway.
The students eagerly waited to cut their hair for a worthy cause while the room buzzed with music, pizza, smoothies, an auction and the countless surprised faces of the brave people who lost inches of hair to raise money and awareness for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
“Hey, free haircut!” one student joked.
According to St. Baldrick’s official website, the event, which took place on March 6, raised $75,304.50 by the end. During the event, students played all kinds of volunteering roles to join the fight against cancer.
“It’s a great cause,” said David Malinovsky, an 11th-grade Commack High School student who had his head shaved. “It’s one of the most special things that we can do besides giving money.”
Even some of the female students hopped into the chairs to get their hair cut significantly shorter. Some female students even decided to have their entire head shaved for the cause.
“My uncle recently died of cancer,” said Carrie Fishbane, a 12th-grade student who had her entire head shaved. “I’m doing this in memory of him.”
Others decided not to lose their precious locks but to still help out in other ways.
“I think it’d be fair for a change if everyone else had no hair,” says Kyle Critelli, a 10th-grade student.
Critelli volunteered to sweep hair from the gymnasium floor. Other students got involved by selling food, drinks and merchandise that would all benefit the students.
Even nonstudents from the community got involved in the effort. Tara Forrest, a professional hairdresser with 17 years of experience, has been volunteering to cut hair for St. Baldrick events for three years.
“My whole family does it,” Forrest said with excitement,
Forrest said she was first inspired to donate her time and effort after one of her young son’s classmates was diagnosed with kidney cancer. She told her son Michael that his classmate’s remission is credited to “people like us that raise money.”
With that inspiration, Michael, who is now in second grade, has helped to raise roughly $10,000 through St. Baldrick’s within three years.
But the Forrest family was not the only one to let a personal situation inspire them to participate in charity work.
Lee Tunick, a math teacher from Commack High School, became the advisor for Yodel Kadodel, an extracurricular club at the school that raises awareness and money for cancer research with various activities throughout the year. The club has been running a St. Baldrick event for the past six years. Since then, roughly $450,000 has been raised.
“I have a friend whose daughter is sick,” said Tunick. “You feel so helpless from one parent to another. You want to do something to help if you can.”