03/26/10 — A shave to help kids beat cancer

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A shave to help kids beat cancer

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on March 26, 2010 1:46 PM

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4th Fighter Wing Operations Support Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Chuck Wallace sits down to have his head shaved by stylists Maria Aycock, left, and Jennifer Howard.

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Mark Webb sits down to have his head shaved by Tammy Cassano Thursday at The Flying Shamrock as part of a fundraiser benefiting St. Baldrick's Foundation, an organization dedicated to fighting children's cancer.


Alex Grice, 6, son of Rosewood Volunteer Fire Department Capt. David Grice, sits down to have his head shaved.

His fingers running along what was left of the blond locks he wore moments earlier, Alex Grice curled his upper lip and looked toward the ground.

The loss was starting to sink in.

But as family members, friends and countless others who showed up at the Flying Shamrock for a similar cut Thursday evening offered the 6-year-old high-fives, pats on the back and cheers, the smile he sported before his father hoisted him into that makeshift barber's chair returned.

Alex was among dozens who showed up at the downtown restaurant to shave their heads for a good cause -- the St. Baldrick's Foundation, an organization focused on battling children's cancer.

The event was hosted by the Eastern Carolina Fraternal Order of Leathernecks, an organization made up of local firefighters, to raise money for the effort -- by the beginning of the event, the group has already brought in more than $7,000.

Alex's dad, David, was one of the firefighters on hand and said it was fitting that his son was among those participating.

"When we heard about this, we felt like it was the least we could do," the Rosewood Volunteer Fire Department captain said. "We feel blessed to have healthy children."

But he knows not all parents are so lucky.

So does Goldsboro Fire Department Capt. Rob Loreman.

He came out to honor the memory of a 12-year-old family friend who lost his battle with brain cancer.

His name was Zachary Dievendorf.

"He's why I showed up," said Loreman, the FOOLS' vice president. "It's an awesome cause."

A cause that saw people from all ends of Wayne County turn out -- even Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

In fact, the first shave of the evening -- an "honor" reserved for the top fundraiser -- went to a 4th Fighter Wing officer.

But 4th Operations Support Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Chuck Wallace would tell you he was just "the carrot on the stick," as far as the $1,300 raised goes.

"It was really the squadron," he said shortly after his cut, which got a playful "thumbs down" from his 12-year-old son, Tyler. "I said if they could raise $1,000, I would shave my head.

"But it really is a great cause," the colonel added, smiling as he used his hand to survey his new look. "We're just happy to help."

Moments later, watching one of his dad's comrades from the Rosewood VFD take the chair, Alex wiped off the back of his neck -- revealing a grin after a few deep breaths.

Perhaps, at 6 years old, he had finally gained the perspective his father hopes will help bring in more than the $110 the family raised for this year's event.

Or maybe he just couldn't believe how little he had lost to give something much bigger to some other little boy his age.

Those who wish to donate to the St. Baldrick's Foundation can do so at www.stbaldricks.org