"It feels awesome," 9-year-old Rosie Colucci said Sunday while rubbing her freshly shorn head. "My head can breathe!"
Rosie was not just one of the "shavees" who participated in a St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraiser at a Lake Zurich hair salon, she was the guest of honor.
The Palatine girl is battling brain cancer, and undergoing treatment for a tumor that sits just behind one of her eyes.
"I'm proud to see all these people here," she said.
Sunday's fundraiser, in which people raised money for the fight against childhood cancer by having their heads shaved, took place at International Hair Designs in Lake Zurich. Dawn Wittmeyer, who owns the salon with her husband, Bruce, was thrilled with the turnout.
"It's so heartwarming," she said,
Bruce Wittmeyer said that with about two hours to go in the fundraiser, the event already had raised about $8,000.
"We hope we can reach $10,000," he said. "Either way, this is such a great community. To see people come out like this is special."
People of all ages agreed to have their heads shaved at the hair salon Sunday. Nine-year-old Kayli Roe of Palatine went under the clippers while sitting next to Rosie. The two occasionally held hands during the shaving.
Kayli and Rosie became close friends after Kayli and her sisters started a charitable group called Sisters Giving Hope, which raises money for a variety of local causes, said Kayli's mother, Dana Roe.
"Someone wrote my daughters a letter about Rosie," Dana Roe said. "When Rosie and Kayli met, they immediately became best friends. They're inseparable."
When Kayli decided to have her head shaved at the fundraiser, her decision inspired a classmate to do the same. Jocie Waddington, 10, of Palatine received her cut the same time that Kayli and Rosie did. The crowd cheered when the three girls were done.
"It was just great," Jocie's father, Hugh Waddington, said after watching his daughter participate. "We couldn't be prouder of her."
The St. Baldrick's Foundation held more than 1,000 head-shaving fundraisers in 2013, raising a total of $34.4 million.
JoAnne Colucci, Rosie's mother, said she could not have been more delighted with Sunday's event.
"To see how people have rallied around Rosie and this cause is so wonderful," she said.