Twinsburg -- With the festive sounds of string and flute music playing in the background, the atmosphere was exactly what the founders of the St. Baldrick's Foundation would have expected at an Irish pub the day before St. Patrick's Day, as people had their heads shaved to support cancer research.

Eleven people from across Northeast Ohio stopped by Mavis Winkle's in Twinsburg March 16 and went under the trimmers of three local hairdressers, and their participation helped raise $3,023 for the foundation, which supports pediatric cancer research.

"We're excited," said Mavis Winkle's manager Jeremy London, one of the now-defoliated 11. "This is a great charity, a highly rated charity ... we're happy to help out. For us, this is our busiest time of the year."

Attending in support of their daughter, Gia, and all her "teammates" -- those who have been touched by cancer, who travel on their journey together -- Derek and Erica Smith of Munroe Falls wore matching "Super Gia" T-shirts for their 2 and a half year old.

"We are just so thankful for everyone showing up," Erica said. "Gia's treatment came directly as a result of research."

Gia has been in remission for 13 months following 46 radiation treatments at Akron Children's Hospital, the Smiths said. Gia's form of cancer, rhabdmyo sarcoma, affects the soft tissue; about 350 cases per year are reported in the United States, Erica said.

"We're here for our teammates, too: Gino Altieri, Nick Reid, Jordan Hammond ... Gia's best friend in treatment ... and Ava Turner," Erica said before Derek took to the barber's chair. "The kids are going to love to see this."

Brian Villwock, who traveled from Parma, said he chooses a charity to assist each year.

"I just like to help out," he said, waiting for a chair to open.

And two U.S. Army soldiers, Staff Sgt. Ron Eggert and Spc. Josh Pittman, also got back to boot camp cosmetology, going under the trimmer of local barbers Crystal Powers and Nicole Applegarth of Fabrizio Salon in Northfield. Mahlaina Yeager, of Studio Wish Salon in Twinsburg, also volunteered her skills.

"We look to help out with child-based charities," Eggert said, wiping off his smooth dome.

St. Baldrick's Foundation, its name a pun on the effects of chemotherapy, began on St. Patrick's Day 2000 in Manhattan, as three New York City businessmen helped raise more than $100,000 for child cancer research in an Irish pub, shaving 19 heads.

Since the non-profit became an independent foundation in 2005, the organization has raised more than $100 million for childhood cancer prevention and cure.


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