March 14, 2016

St. Baldrick's Day gives hope a new ‘do

jugJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Brian Driscoll of Cortland checks the results after his hair was shaved Saturday for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser for curing childhood cancer at the Red Jug Pub on Central Avenue.

Associate Editor

Cindy Lynch did it for all the children. Brian Driscoll did it for a single little girl. Burt Ryan did it because he still has hair — at least some.
They shaved their heads Saturday to raise money for cancer research.
“Hey, I got hair,” said Ryan, 79, outside the Red Jug Pub on Central Avenue in Cortland. And five years ago, he had prostate cancer. Besides, he needed a hair cut, anyhow.
Twenty heads were shaved for St. Baldrick’s Day, an event that has raised $178 million nationwide for cancer research. Cortland’s hirsute added another $11,851 to that amount amid cheers, hoots, high fives and a few beers.
“That’s a new record, already,” Red Jug co-owner Tom Terwilliger said when the tally crossed the $8,000 mark on its way past a $10,000 goal. “St. Baldrick’s seems to resonate with our clientele — and with me.”
Terwilliger’s mother died of cancer about 15 years ago, and his sister is in remission after being treated for stage IV melanoma that had spread to her brain, lungs, liver and back.
“There’s hope right there,” said Shannon Terwilliger, Tom Terwilliger’s wife. “I’m in awe of people who can do it. I contemplated it one year; I thought I would freak out.”
No freaking was in sight Saturday as one person after another sat in the seat under a spotlight and waited as sweep after sweep of a barber’s clippers dropped their locks to the floor. At 100,000 hairs per head, each hair was worth a half-penny to fight cancer.
Lynch’s hair might have been worth a little bit more; thick waves of an attractive gray fell to the floor. “That’s the longest I’ve had in quite a while,” said Lynch, of Cortland. “I keep it short; I have very curly hair.”
Twenty-seven years ago, she had cancer herself, a melanoma, so she sympathizes with the children the St. Baldrick’s Foundation likes to focus on. “I know they’re out there,” she said. “You see it all the time.”
Brian Driscoll just has to close his eyes to see it: Mackenzie Updike. She was 20 months old when doctors found the brain tumor. Two brain surgeries, a tracheotomy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy — none of it was enough.
“You could see her topple over when she was about 4 or 5,” said Driscoll, 29, of Cortland. Mackenzie died in 2007, age 6. “They’re not even old enough to sin.”
He didn’t share that inside the bar, where the occasional cheer echoed over the chatter. St. Baldrick’s Day is about hope, not loss.
“It always grows back,” one man called to another.
“So far.”

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