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April 28. 2013 8:41PM

Solidarity

Head-shaving event in Keene raises funds for cancer center


Ryder and Kole Wasklewicz, 8, of Langdon, and Keenan Jasmin, 10, of Alstead, all junior members of the Bald is Beautiful Cancer Fundraiser team the Cue Balls, show of their team shirts that list all of the cancer patients they are rooting for at the fifth annual event on Saturday in Keene. (MEGHAN PIERCE PHOTO)

KEENE - Less than a year ago, a dear friend of Donna Watterson, general manager of the Keene Swamp Bats baseball team, died of pancreatic cancer.

Taking one for the team, Watterson had her head shaved at the 5th Annual Bald is Beautiful Cancer Fundraiser Saturday.

Her fundraising group, Team Little Feat, raised about $2,000 for the event that supports patients seeking care at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center Kingsbury Pavilion, located at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene.

Watterson, who has never shaved her head before, said she was excited and nervous and might cry, but is happy thinking about how her friend might react looking down on her from heaven.

Pledges and gifts are still coming in, but as of Saturday night the event had raised over $34,200 this year, according to Sandie Phipps, Senior Director of Development and Communications at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene.

The event was held at MJD & Co. Hair Design on West Street. The salon has helped run the event each year, but this is the first year it was held at the salon.

"I got involved because I was hanging out at the cancer center so much because of family members," said Mary Jane Doody, owner of MJD & Co. Hair Design.

"My brother, my father and my mother has had it twice," Doody said. "I was very much involved because of my family. It's really a shocking experience for cancer patients to lose their hair. They hold onto it as long as they can."

Doody also cuts and adjusts wigs for cancer patients and also helps them through the Look Good Feel Good program.

"All this money goes right back to the patients," said Norris Cotton Cancer Center director Dr. Steven S. Larmon.

That is certainly a big incentive for Andrew Riggio of Walpole, whose team, The Cue Balls, has been raising over $2,000 a year for the event for the past five years.

It's wonderful to think in 20 years there might be a cure for cancer, but this fundraiser helps people locally here and now with their needs, Riggio said.

"The money ends up helping people get treatment and get care that they might not be able to get," he said. "That's actually a big part of why I do it, to help get people locally get care."

Some teams have one or two members shave their heads, but The Cue Balls all join in the show of support and solidarity of those friends and family members who have battled cancer.

"My sister is a survivor and I think about her," Riggio said.

The act of shaving one's head is much more courageous for the women, Riggio said, like his wife Vicky and teammate Shelley Wasklewicz.

Wasklewicz, whose twin sons Ryder and Kole, 8, also shaved their heads, said she wants to set a good example for her sons.

"I thought that it was important to teach the kids to help other people," she said.

And health is something people don't always appreciate, she said. But she found the experience rewarding for herself. "Last year when I shaved my head it was the first time in my life I felt beautiful," she said. "I highly recommend it. It's very freeing.

mpierce@newstote.com


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