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posted: 3/10/2014 3:09 PM

Vanguard School's St. Baldrick's Day dedicated to alum, social worker

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Submitted by District 214

Touring St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., with his family as a young child left an indelible impression on John Schwarz' life.

When his grandfather was diagnosed with cancer years later, the Forest View Alternative School teacher knew he had to do something to raise awareness and prevention of this disease.

"When I surfed the Internet to see what I could do personally to help fight this disease, St. Baldrick's popped up," explained Schwartz. "After reading about the head-shaving event, I thought, raise money, shave your head, what a great idea. I can teach kids about this dreadful disease and raise money to help eradicate it at the same time."

With his director's approval, Schwartz led the Forest View Alternative School's first St. Baldrick's Day event in 2009. Nearly $40,000 has been raised in four years, and he is certain they will surpass this year's goal of $5,000.

The annual event is co-hosted by Vanguard School teacher Joseph Impastato and will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 20, in the Forest View Educational Center theater. A FVAS student will speak about losing his mother to cancer, and a moment of silence will be held to remember Vanguard School alum Sabrina Cuevas and Vanguard School social worker Dr. Marilyn Medina-Perez who recently lost their lives to cancer.

As in previous years, at least 15 females are expected to shave their heads or donate their hair to the cause. Hair extensions will be sold as another option. Ron Sachen has donated flight lessons for two, and there will be live music by Ross Borgias, karaoke donated by Pro-Mix, 50/50 raffle, prize raffles, airbrush artist by Roy Adorjan, and face painting. Raffle tickets will be sold until the day of the event and cost $3 each or 10 for $20. The 50/50 raffle is $5 each or 6 for $20.

Several community organizations are sponsoring the event, and various vendors, stores, and restaurants have donated over 50 raffle prizes. The following restaurants are donating food to feed everyone who shaves, donates money, and volunteers their time: Burger Baron; Jarosche Bakery; Guiseppes; Real TIme Sports; Coaches Corner; Starbucks in Elk Grove; Grande Jakes in Rolling Meadows; Chipotle in Addison; and Valli Produce in Arlington Heights.

For information about the St. Baldrick's Day event, to make a raffle donation, or donate to the cause, contact John Schwarz at