The ballroom at the Naperville Marriott hotel will become part barbershop, part bragging rights battlefield, part Irish dancing stage and part children's cancer research fundraiser on March 1 as the city's police and fire departments host their 10th annual St. Baldrick's charity event.
The fundraiser, to be held from 6 to 9 p.m., is expected to draw cancer survivors, cancer patients, family members and others to raise money for childhood cancer research.
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If You GoWhat: St. Baldrick's Battle of the Badges
When: 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 1
Where: Naperville Marriott hotel, 1801 N. Naper Blvd.
Who: Sponsored by Naperville police and fire departments
Cost: Free to attend; head-shaving, silent auctions and raffles for donations
Info: stbaldricks.org search "Naperville Public Service"
And, yes, participants will get their heads shaved in support of those who lose their strands as a side effect of cancer treatment.
"Nobody likes to see sick children, and nobody likes to see children who have lost their hair because of the treatment they're having to go through," said Naperville firefighter/paramedic Jody Jones, who is planning the event with police Sgt. Kathy Anderson.
"So it (the head-shaving) is just kind of a solidarity thing."
Anderson's husband will be shaving his head in solidarity with their 16-year-old son Jacob, who survived a brain tumor the size of a tennis ball discovered when he was 7 years old.
"Pediatric cancers are so short in money," Anderson said. "This is a good family event to support research."
Naperville Mayor George Pradel and his daughter, Carol, will be getting their heads shaved in solidarity with Pradel's wife, Pat, who was diagnosed about a month ago with stage four bone cancer.
"Since she's losing her hair, we will go ahead and support her" by becoming St. Baldrick's "shavees," Carol Pradel said. "We're trying to raise money because instead of flowers to her room, she would rather see the money go to kids with cancer, and that's what St. Baldrick's is all about."
Money raised from St. Baldrick's fundraisers across the country helps fund research by leading oncologists on promising theories to cure and treat tumors in children.
Head-shaving is a constant at the events, but for the second year in Naperville, organizers are adding a friendly "Battle of the Badges" competition between the police and fire departments to see which can sell more T-shirts to benefit the cause.
Ask Jones how it went last year and she says the fire department won by one shirt. Ask Anderson and she says police and fire tied. Both agree it came down to the wire.
This year, T-shirt sales will continue at the fundraiser itself, which Jones said will offer free admission, food and drinks, and the chance to enter raffles and silent auctions.
Participants can keep the little ones entertained in a kids room, watch McNulty Irish Dancers perform at 9 p.m. and hear the ceremony kicked off at 6 p.m. by the Naperville Highland Guard bagpipers and members of the police and fire honor guards.
Organizers aim to get 100 people to don a barber's cape and go bald on March 1. Striving to shave 100 heads and raise $100,000 every year since Naperville's first St. Baldrick's event nine years ago has put the fundraiser in line to reach the $1 million mark by the end of the night.
"Sometimes it's hard to know what to do to help," said Carol Pradel, who has been helping take care of her mother since the bone cancer diagnosis. "But if we can support her and shave our heads so that we all look alike, that's what we're going to do."