In three minutes, the full head of hair was gone. Then another, then another.
More than 130 adults and children registered to have their heads shaved to show solidarity with children — some of them relatives or friends — who have lost their hair because of cancer treatments. It’s also to raise money and awareness.
Before the first shaver buzzed, Anna Harroun, 9, of Macomb, Ill., shouted out, “Today’s my birthday, and this will be my most memorable birthday ever!”
She was cheered by the crowd of 400 at the Golden Leaf Convention Center on East Kimberly Road in Davenport. All the money collected Saturday will go for cancer research for kids through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
“The money is then diverted around the country to various schools and hospitals to fund education and research for pediatric cancer,” coordinator Brad Tracy explained.
Anna’s dad, Bill Harroun, winced slightly when the hair stylist took the shaver to his pony tail.
“I felt a little sad,” he admitted. As the hair fell, he said, “It feels a little naked on top.”
St. Baldrick’s Foundation began in California 12 years ago. Two men sitting in a bar made a bet to see if they could raise $17,000 in 17 days to help children fight cancer. They ended up raising $140,000. Because their deadline was St. Patrick’s Day and since the objective was to shave heads, they came up with the name “St. Baldrick’s.”
It has grown to be one of the largest private funding agencies of childhood cancer research grants, organizers said.
Madison Finch, 10, of Aledo, Ill., raised $1,400 in memory of Cole Deickman of Joy, Ill., a distant family member who died from cancer at the age of 5. She was told at Saturday’s event that if she could raise $100 more, someone would help her to reach $2,000. In less than 30 seconds, people walked up with a total of $100 in cash.
A man representing two youth football team members and their families wrote a check to help Madison reach the $2,000 level.
Dana VanderHeide of Iowa City scooped her hair into a plastic bag after the cutting. She said she planned to give it to Locks of Love, a group that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss of any diagnosis.
“I’m a medical student,” she said with a smile, “and while this feels very weird, my school friends said they’ll be excited to see me bald.”
This head-shaving event occurs once a year, but Tracy said during the rest of the year, the group works on promotions with the Quad-City Mallards hockey team, the Quad-Cities River Bandits baseball club, bowl-athons and other events to raise money.
Tracy is glad there seems to be growing Quad-City support for the cause, with new people stepping forward to have their heads shaved.
Nick Bull of Reynolds, Ill., noted during his shaving, “It already feels cooler.”
Mitchell Sams, 12, of Davenport simply said, “It feels bald.”
As soon as the shavees walked back into the watching crowd, there was lots of rubbing of their heads and hugs from family members.
The 13 shavers were students from Paul Mitchell School of Cosmetology on Brady Street in Davenport. One student, Meredith Slater, was sporting a very short brunette cut halfway down her head, but her top part was full of purple-colored curls.
She decided to shave her head because one of her close friends, an 18-year old, just lost her hair to cancer treatments.
“I’m both excited and nervous,” she said, wondering how her friends will react to her new look.
Tracy expects the group to raise about $70,000 from the shaving event. He collected $10,000 on his own.
“I do all my fundraising through Facebook and social media, and I just guilt my family and friends into it,” he said.
He noted he and his wife don’t have children yet, “but if we do, I hope there’s a cure. If there isn’t, I hope there are others like us being proactive in trying to find a cure.”
At the end of her “shave,” new 9-year-old Anna said her head felt "cold and weird, but it’s for a good cause.”