Monday, April 25, 2011

St. Baldrick's and Coverage by TV 3

First, I would really like to thank Alex Holmes, reporter for TV 3 in Winchester for airing the interview with Justin last month on the St. Baldrick's event.  He came out to our house and spent at least two hours here, talking with us about what St. Baldrick's does and why Justin wanted to cut off his @22" ponytail for Locks of Love and then get his head shaved in the name of childhood cancer research.

After we returned from the event, I emailed Alex again and asked if he wanted to do a follow up on how big a success March 27th was and how well not only our team, but everyone who participated did in raising donations to keep funding research for a cure.  I spoke with him at some length on the phone this afternoon, quoting the numbers and again telling him what St. Baldrick's does and why we traveled to Syracuse to attend the event.  I know he was taking notes because he was asking me to repeat things and I could hear that he was writing down what I said.

Unfortunately, television is a visual medium and unfortunately again, they could only give us 30 seconds.  So, if you watched the piece on the news at 11:00, I wanted to clear up just a few things and give you all the facts and figures, because this is important and should be reported correctly.

On March 27, 2010 at the Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub and Restaurant in downtown Syracuse, 487 people showed up to have their heads shaved.  They came from 67 different teams representing children who were fighting or continue to fight some form of childhood cancer.  Just a few weeks prior prior to the event, Juliana was made an "honored" child for St. Baldrick's.  Which is as it should be because her face should never ever be forgotten.

Our team, JJ's Angels, ended up raising $24,194 for the event, over $9,000 more than our $15,000 goal.  We were in second place, behind the Craig Reinhardt's Crusaders.   Craig's mother had her own head shaved in memory of her son who had just passed away in January at the age of 17, only six weeks after his own diagnosis.  Craig's team was in first place, raising $26,239.  Craig's mother, Ellen, raised $5,130 just herself and she and Mike spent a few minutes to hug each other and talk about their children and how indescribably hard it is to lose a child to cancer.  I think only parents who have been through this can actually understand what this means.

The March 27th event, if I heard correctly in that extremely loud, overcrowded pub, packed breathing room only with people joined in a common cause was the largest event for St. Baldrick's to date, raising a whopping total of $343,233 to donate to childhood cancer research.  You can read here how the money they brought in last year was allocated, to which organizations, doctors, hospitals, and researchers.  Over $14,000,000 was raised and donated to St. Baldrick's in 2010 and given out in grants to find a cure for the unbelievably large numbers of cancer types that afflict children.  They put all of the information on their website so you can see exactly where every penny of that money goes.  And I will say that I have no doubts that the money is going to help these kids get well.

We do greatly appreciate the air time that Alex was able to get us to promote what we were doing.  And we are most grateful for the fact that he thought the story was newsworthy.  I've posted up JJ's picture on numerous occasions, usually when I had my hand out for fundraising.  You can see her on the St. Baldrick's site here, her beautiful, bright, sunshiny smile beaming out at you from that swing.

A couple of corrections to Alex's story though.  The event was not only in honor of Juliana, but in honor of all children who suffer or have passed away from cancer.  It's purpose was to raise money for research to wipe out this disease so that no parent will ever again have to go through what Mike and Christine LaMonica did between November 2009 and July 2010.  And to me, the total raised by JJ's Angels is nothing compared to the final number raised by the 487 people who put those capes on and got their heads shaved bald for a cure.

Next year, Mike is trying to get the event to come to Rochester for another head shearing, fundraising event.  And if it does, I am sure Justin will be first (well, second right behind Mike) in line.

Oh, I forgot to mention that not only did Mike have his head shaved in honor of Juliana, but her older brother Andrew did as well.  Juliana touched so many lives, but obviously none so much as her family.  The night before the event, Justin and I went back to Mike and Christine's before heading back to our hotel.  Pictures of that little beauty are all over the walls in their house and Mike took one of the best ones down and asked me if I would take a picture of him and Justin holding Juliana.  Since I'm not writing from my own computer at the moment, I can't access it to put up right now, but it's so touching and fitting to see those masculine guys holding a picture of a dark haired little cutie in a pink dress between them.

There were many tears that day and I know that Justin and I shed a lot of them ourselves.  As the barber began to shave his head, our eyes locked and the emotions were overwhelming.  Right behind Justin's head hung a large picture of Juliana, as if she was looking down on us and smiling at what she had done.  I give you the credit, Juliana.  You created a miracle here on earth, baby girl.  But that does not ever make up for the fact that you're not here.  You are missed more than you can imagine by so many and you touched so many lives in your short three years on this earth.  Juliana has left a legacy and a commitment from everyone who knew her or knew of her.  To kill childhood cancer dead.

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