St. Baldrick’s Day celebrated its 10th year in Avon with a bang — or rather a lack of bangs — at the Avon Fire Station on Saturday afternoon, March 19.
The annual event, which is affectionately referred to by a number of local Avon men as their “annual haircut,” raises awareness and money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation – a volunteer-driven charity that funds childhood cancer research grants.
The event’s local roots technically began 13 years ago, when Tina Chandler and her daughter, Maddy, attended the Norfolk-based event while her daughter was undergoing chemo, and it simply grew from there. For several years, some Avon locals would make the drive up to Norfolk every March to participate, until they decided to simply stage their own event closer to home.
The first St. Baldrick’s in Avon was held at the Avon Surf Shop, with Chloe Sapecki as the event’s lone barber. It eventually moved to the Avon Fire Station as more and more attendees signed up to have their heads shaved clean.
This year’s event had five barbers, a bake sale, and a number of volunteers who were ready and willing to have their heads shaved.
The barbers were Nicole Jennette and Charidy Anders of Creative Ballance Salon in Hatteras, Tabby Rose and Chandler Butler from Jobell’s Salon in Buxton, and Chloe Sapecki of Spa Koru who was also celebrating her 10th year as a St. Baldrick’s barber.
“I’ve never missed a year,” she said, “and that’s because of the people who are involved. We’re a close community.”
Five chairs were set up on one side of the hall, and a tempting bake sale was set up on the other. The sale tables were lined with St. Patrick’s Day-themed goodies including cupcakes, brownies, and chocolate mint cake balls.
Volunteers manned the central T-Shirt and button desk and signed up the walk-in participants who didn’t pre-register for the event online and who made a suggested donation of $25 before scoring their official St. Baldrick’s Day T-Shirt and getting in line for a chair.
There were a couple of stand-outs that the crowd watched with admiring grins and cheered along the way, including Michelle Evans-Lord – the event’s lone woman who bravely lopped off all of her hair, which had formerly gone halfway down her back, to donate it to Locks of Love. “I had cancer two years ago, and I donate it every three years,” she said, “so I’ve been growing it for this occasion.”
Her two kids looked on – all grins and smiles – and FaceTimed the shaving with their dad who happened to be overseas. “He said it looks great,” said Michelle.
Her kids were equally impressed and continued to grin for photos afterwards with their clean shaven mom.
“I think she actually looks better than she did before,” her son said.
“I think she looks like my Uncle Sean,” her daughter added.
Another stand-out was the event’s youngest participant, Landen Sonnier – a first grader who was actually celebrating his second year of being a St. Baldrick’s shavee. “He loved doing it last year, and wanted to do it again,” said his mother.
Landen, who was a participant with Team Hatteras Realty, more than doubled his goal of $100, and was the subject of a lot of smiling photos both during and after the process – especially when a stripe was initially shaved right down the middle of his head.
The biggest money maker of the day was Donnie Smith of the Big Eye Charter Boat at Hatteras Harbor Marina, who had raised $2,250 before the event had even started, and who seemed surprised by the amount of donations that had rolled in. “All I did was put it on Facebook,” he said.
Arriving at the event with a wildly full beard and head of hair, Donnie, too, left the barber’s chair grinning and clean shaven.
A special shout out was also given to Eric Harmon, a 7-year participant who, because of his repeated participation, was named by Maddy Chandler as an official “Knight of the Bald Table.”
All in all, it was a fun event – as always – with lots of folks wandering in and signing up throughout the three-hour event, and volunteers applauding the shavees as they exited the barber’s chair.
“It’s always a good time,” said Jenn Auguston, one of the event’s organizers. “The whole community comes together to raise money for such a worthy cause.”
And as the giggling kids who couldn’t help staring at their newly bald parents will attest, an event that combines baked goodies, a great cause, and a pair of clippers is going to be inherently fun.