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Firefighters Shave Heads, Raise Thousands for Kids with Cancer

The head shaving event in Providence this week raised tens of thousands for the St. Baldrick's Foundation thanks to the efforts of firefighters across Rhode Island.

Photo Credit: The I.C.E. Agency
Photo Credit: The I.C.E. Agency
In what has become an annual tradition, dozens of local firefighters shaved their heads to benefit the St. Baldrick's Foundation at The Whiskey Republic in Providence this week.

In just five years, the annual head shaving event has raised more than $200,000.

"I just think it is great to see all of my firefighter and police department brothers and sisters pull together to support a great cause," said Chris Sperry, an East Providence firefighter and host of the event. "It's such a rewarding event to be involved in."

The money raised goes to fund children's cancer research and firefighters took turn under the razor as the folks from Pure Salon at the Barber Shoppe in Bristol manned the stations. 

"It feels nice and cool," one firefighter and member of the Bridewell Bombers team said. 

Nanci Adams of the salon said she was there because "it's just the right thing to do. Bristol and its companies and families really support these causes, especially children's causes."

Other special things happened, besides a lot of money getting raised. A highlight of the night was the presence of two-and-a-half-year-old Riley Sylvaria, who has been diagnosed with alopecia, a condition where hair is lost over some or all of the body, usually the scalp.

Toted by Vicky Sylvaria, her grandmother, Riley was there because her grandmother wanted her to know "that you don't need hair to be beautiful."

Twelve teams from across Rhode Island participated in the event, including firefighters from East GreenwichMiddletown, Bristol, BarringtonSmithfield,East Providence and North Providence.

The St. Baldrick Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives.

North Kingstown Firefighter Chris Beattie said he raised $2,800 in a 6 to 8 week campaign period and felt that once all the donations were counted, it could be upwards of $8,000.

He said the cause is the ultimate "pay it forward" situation and hopes that more and more firefighters come on board. It was his third year involved with the St. Baldrick's Foundation and he said he wanted to let the residents of North Kingstown know that they'll always be there for the community.

That promise comes despite the ongoing labor dispute in that town. There are other statewide issues plaguing firefighters — union relations with municipalities and the public as well as the ongoing pension reform debate.

But at The Whiskey Republic, all of that was on the back burner because when it comes to firefighters, job No. 1 is always to protect and guard the well being of others, especially children.

Sperry said the event raises between $35,000 and $45,000 per year.

For more information about the St. Baldrick's Foundation, click HERE.

Reporting assistance and photos provided courtesy I.C.E. Agency

Einstein March 28, 2014 at 03:41 PM
Bravo! Very nice gesture. Congratulations.
Jack Baillargeron March 28, 2014 at 06:18 PM
Good cause and good people.
Joe Sousa March 29, 2014 at 07:26 AM
Newport holds a similar event . It was fun to watch the buzz cuts .
Leave RI March 30, 2014 at 01:33 AM
Nice job all.

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