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News Maryland Harford County Bel Air

Heads shaved to fight kids' cancer at Looney's

Diana Keating, of Essex, burst into tears as she stepped off the stage at Looney's Pub in Bel Air Saturday afternoon.

The 38-year-old rubbed her hands over her freshly shaved head. Her blonde shoulder length hair sat in a ball on the stage floor.

Her mother-in-law, Mary Keating, 68, of Frostburg, and friend Sara Brandt-Doelle, 39, of Syracuse, N.Y., grabbed Diana Keating hugging her tight. The trio, all newly shaved, created a sea of blue in their "Kick Cancer for Kevin Covey" (KC4KC) shirts.

Diane Keating, who was very emotional, couldn't mutter much after shaving her head in honor of her father, Kevin Covey, who lost his battle with esophageal cancer last year.

But, Brandt-Doelle said the back of her head felt quite breezy.

"There's never been air back there," Brandt-Doelle said.

Since January, KC4KC has raised more than $2,200 by pledging to shave their heads. The funds will go to St. Baldrick's Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity that raises money for cancer research for children.

Before the shaving, Keating said the group's goal was simply to raise $500. Her mother, brother, nephew and about seven other family friends are also participating in a similar St. Baldrick's event this week in Wisconsin, where they will also shave their heads.

"I've seen what cancer can do to someone," Diana Keating said. "I was there with my dad [in Wisconsin] during his last days. Kids shouldn't have to deal with this; no one should."

As the next group of five people walked on stage to get their heads shaved, Looney's Pub was packed full of people dressed in green and black to support the St. Baldrick's event. A few hundred people stood around drinking, eating and enjoying the atmosphere, waiting to see the 50 participants who signed up get their heads shaved.

Bryan Galliher, 25, of Forest Hill, walked into Looney's Pub around 1:15 p.m. sporting a head full of reddish wavy hair. He said he has been growing his hair out since September for the hair shaving event.

"We're definitely raising money for a great cause," Galliher said. "Kids are fighting every day so why not help them out."

Galliher, who said he is questionable about what's under his wavy hair, raised $300 for St. Baldrick's.

Event organizer Dylan Baumgarder said this is the third year he has spearheaded the head-shaving event. The first year the event was in College Park, since most of the participants were still in college. He said the Looney's event was packed this year and last year.

"We started it because our friend Drew [Eilbacher] from the Bel Air fire house had brain cancer and eventually passed away," Baumgarder said. "But we didn't want it to just be a memorial event. We wanted to make it a big event for anyone, not just the fire department."

Baumgarder said Mr. Eilbacher died at the age of 22. He said his friend always loved a good party and being around people.

"He never complained," Baumgarder said. "What better way to honor [Drew] than throw a party that will raise money for kids with cancer?"

This year, the event organizers celebrated the lives of Mr. Eilbacher, Jason Vest, Domonic Osorio and Madison Corcoran, who all lost their battles with cancer. Adam Sparr, whose battle with cancer continues, also was celebrated this year.

Before Saturday afternoon, more than $20,000 had been raised in online donations, not including money raised from head shavers, raffles or event attendees. Looney's Pub donated 20 percent of all food and drink purchases from the event to the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

"If we can raise $30,000 it will put us at $100,000 raised in three years of hosting the event," Baumgarder said.

About 15 barbers and hairstylists volunteered their time to shave heads during the event.

Cyndi Harris, 52, of Abingdon, was one of five stylist from Regis Salon in Harford Mall who participated. Harris is also a cancer survivor. She was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008.

"I didn't go through radiation, so I didn't lose my hair," Harris said. "But I can definitely understand what it's like to go through it."

Harris and the other stylists from Regis raised money through online donations for St. Baldrick's leading up to the event.

"It's a fun event; they first asked us to do it last year," Harris said. "I like the fact that a lot of women signed up to shave their heads this year."

One of the youngest shavers was Ayden Eyre, 7, of Forest Hill, who first participated in the event last year, in memory of his mom's friend, Mr. Eilbacher.

Ayden's cousin, Kaylee Norstrand, 8, also got on stage to help shave off some of Ayden's hair.

"I did it so I could save people's lives," Ayden said sporting his new hairstyle.

Baumgarder said Monday he was very pleased with the Saturday's turnout, adding that the group can't wait to gear up for next year.

He said the total amount raised would not be available until late Tuesday afternoon.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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