OSWEGO – The weather may be freezing; but things are heating up for the annual Oswego St. Baldrick’s event.
With just a couple weeks to go before the event that raises funds and awareness to help fight childhood cancer, team’s fundraising efforts have kicked into high gear.
“This year’s St. Baldrick’s event features two fundraising teams that seem to have a good rivalry going between them,” Dan Witmer, volunteer event coordinator, said.
The event features dozens of volunteers who have their heads shaved to raise funds for the local effort.
The Oswego County Sheriff’s Office fundraising team has seven members and its fundraising page recently showed $2,284 so far.
Their team captain is Rob Wells, a first-time “shavee.”
Meanwhile, the Fulton Police Benevolent Association team consists of 13 members.
Their fundraising page recently showed $2,573.
Their fundraising team captain is Craig Westbrook.
He is also a first-time participant.
Rob Wells of the Sheriff’s team said the department has participated in the event previously.
“I didn’t take part back then. It was early in my career,” he said. “Now I’m the union president. Fulton PD reached out to us and so we’re having a friendly competition.”
The team is participating in honor of two local young girls who are battling cancer – Brooklyn Hall (AKA ‘Danger Girl’) and Allison Westbrook, daughter of the Fulton Police Department’s team captain.
“That’s the driving force for us to raise as much money as we can,” he said. “We know the families. It affects everybody. Anything we can do to help make things better for these kids and their families.”
“I started the Fulton PBA team after my wife spoke with Dan Witmer about the (St. Baldrick’s) program,” Westbrook said. “Our 4-year-old daughter, Allison, was diagnosed with Leukemia last year and Dan asked her if we would allow Allison to be an Honored Kid for St. Baldrick’s.”
After his wife spoke with Witmer, Westbrook approached PBA members suggesting that they create a team.
“After Allison was diagnosed and seeing first-hand the benefits of cancer research I wanted to help in anyway that I can,” Westbrook told Oswego County Today. “My fellow PBA members as well as members of the community have been very supportive to my family through out this ordeal and we are very appreciative of all that they have done.”
Last fall, PBA and community members donated to a “No Shave November” fundraiser with the proceeds going to local (Central NY) cancer related charities and Golisano Children’s Hospital.
“I have never participated in a St. Baldrick’s event and as far as I know neither has anyone else on the team. So far we have 14 members on the team, one of them is retired from Fulton PD and another is the child of a department member,” Westbrook said. “We have also been approached by a local young man who wanted to join our team so he could participate in the event.”
“The St. Baldrick’s website features some 19 Honored Kids, children from Oswego County, who have won, lost, or are still fighting battles with cancer,” Witmer told Oswego County Today. “And, we all know there are others.”
The 13th annual St. Baldrick’s Day in Oswego is set for Sunday, March 31, at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center on East First Street from 1-4 p.m.
Besides the head shaving fundraising, there will be many items up for bid.
“I’m pretty sure we have Mets and Yankees tickets, Syracuse Mets tickets, Syracuse Crunch tickets, Rochester Amerks tickets, jewelry, ski passes, theme park tickets and a lot more,” Witmer said. “There’s something for everyone!”
“At present, we have almost $25,000 showing on the website, There are 81 shavees registered and 15 fundraising teams,” Witmer added. “We’re a little behind pace on shavees and teams. But, we’re ahead of pace with dollars raised already.”
One in five children diagnosed with cancer will not survive. Those who do survive often suffer long-term effects from treatment too harsh for their developing bodies.
As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, St. Baldrick’s Foundation is leading the charge to take childhood back from cancer.
Donations raised at events like this support the development of childhood cancer treatments that give kids their best chance at growing up cancer-free.
The 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.
For more information, contact [email protected]