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David Webb prepares to lose his beard for St. Baldrick's Foundation and cancer research.
David Webb prepares to lose his beard for St. Baldrick's Foundation and cancer research. (Christina Tkacik / Baltimore Sun)

Sitting on a stage in a conference room, a green smock wrapped around his neck, David Webb, 58, looked pensive as a volunteer used trimmers to remove his thick white beard – which he had grown since 1986. He said later, he wondered “if my kids are going to like me or not,” without facial hair. Afterward, his daughter cried.

Webb was one of around 130 men, women and children to get a close shave in the name of cancer research at Sunday’s 11th St. Baldrick’s event in Rosedale. The event raised around $150,000 for children’s cancer research, organizers said. Such events are a primary fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a group that, according to its website, has funded more than $258 million in grants for childhood cancer research.

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Only 4 percent of federal funding for cancer research goes to pediatric cancer research, said volunteer Jackie Vogt. Her own daughter, Sidney Iubelt, died last fall from brain tumors caused by her cancer treatment. Before that, she suffered vision loss. She wants more money to go to improving treatment for children with such diseases.

“We’ve got to find something better for these kids,” Vogt said.

Havre de Grace St. Baldrick's 2016 event sets new fundraising record

The third annual Havre de Grace head-shaving event to raise money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation shattered the previous year's records for fundraising and the number of participants, with at least $80,500 raised and 80 men, women and children volunteering to get their heads shaved.

On Sunday, St. Baldrick’s organizers played a tribute to Sidney, with clips of her belting out the lyrics to Kelly Clarkson’s “Fight Song.” St. Baldrick’s was Sidney’s favorite day of the year – a chance to dance and play with kids outside the hospital. Vogt said, “Sidney would be mad” if she hadn’t shown up.

For Tyler Guzman, 22, it was the fourth time getting shaved at St. Baldrick’s. Diagnosed with leukemia as a youngster, he credits St. Baldrick’s with helping him accept his disease. Today, he works as a nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center, working with transplant patients.

Dan Jarkiewicz began the area St. Baldrick’s event 11 years ago at a small bar on Pulaski Highway. Soon after he began working on the event, his daughter, Ally, then just a baby, was diagnosed with a blood disease called HLH, which required a bone marrow transplant.

“It’s kind of weird how it all worked out,” said Jarkiewicz. From the Pulaski Highway bar St. Baldrick’s has since grown – participants from babies to elderly folks filled the ballroom at Martin’s East.

On Sunday afternoon, 10-year-old Ally Jarkiewicz stood crying above her dad and her two brothers, ages 4 and 5. All three were about to get their heads shaved.

“I think it was happy tears,” Ally said later. “But I don’t really know.”

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