Campbell-Dickinson event raises $25,000

TORONTO – The city was abuzz Saturday, from the 30 people that had their heads buzz shaved to the more than 1,200 people who biked, ran and walked all in fun to raise money in the fight against cancer.

The annual Campbell-Dickinson Bike, Walk and Run on Saturday raised more than $25,000 for Teramana Cancer Center Trinity’s Emergency Assistance Relief Fund.

A huge get-well poster for Noah Long was signed by hundreds of well wishers. The 7-year-old is recovering from a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia.

George Komar, race director, said organizers were overwhelmed with the amount of runners and walkers that showed up. The start of the 5-km walk and run was delayed as participants stood in the long line waiting to register. Komar said additional computers were brought in to help speed the process along.

Susan Miller, Teramana Cancer Center oncology patient advocate, said the event is the largest fundraiser for the center’s emergency assistance relief fund.

Miller said the program provides transportation assistance, nutritional supplements, medicine and equipment for cancer patients. The fund has benefited 1,600 patients in the past four years, raising $180,000 that goes directly to patients. The Campbell-Dickinson race has provided $50,000 in money for the program since it began, she said.

The St. Baldrick’s head shaving brought in $8,752 on Saturday benefiting the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for research in childhood cancer research.

Matt Lewis, St. Baldrick’s shave off organizer, said hair dressers from the Chop Shop, Just Julies and Images Styling volunteered their time to buzz shave heads and beards.

Lewis said the St. Baldrick’s Foundation funded $24 million in grants childhood cancer research last year. The foundation has provided $13,5 million in grants since 2005, he said.

Participants had their heads and beards buzz cut in front of hundreds of onlookers.

“We don’t have difficulty in getting volunteers. We started this three years ago for fun and a good cause. We are glad we are able to help the St. Baldrick’s Foundation grow,” Lewis said.

A group of Lewis’ friends, known as Team Metal Head, all share a love for metal music. John Hrinda, Dan Jeffrey, Chris Coble, Michael Halyak and Lewis make up the team.

Hrinda said people often stop him after the event and ask him what happened to his hair and beard.

“Everyone pretty much knows why,” he said.

Jeffrey said he has nephews and cousins and doesn’t want cancer to strike them.

“I lost childhood friends to cancer. That’s why I do it,” Jeffrey said.

A team for Noah Long, “Noah’s Warriors” also took the stage to get their heads shaved.

Joshua “Hugo” Stock of Empire was there with his son, Briar.

Briar was in the Empire Cub Scout Pack with Noah Long.

“Noah is one of my best friends. Hopefully the money raised will help Noah get home,” Briar Stock said.

Head shavers were given buttons that stated, “Ask me why I’m bald,” to further raise awareness of childhood cancer and the fight to find a cure.

Carrie Libetti of Mingo Junction was getting ready for the race with her two daughters, Sophia, 13, and Cecelia, 11.

Libetti said it was her third year participating in the race, the first for her daughters.

“I wanted to do something with my mom,” Cecelia Libetti said.

Carrie Libetti said her father was a victim of cancer.

“Cancer is so rampant in the area. Everyone knows someone who has been touched by cancer,” she said.

Don Phillips of the Richmond-Bloomingdale area was a member of the Brooklyn Believers Team getting their head shaved. Phillips and relatives Sheldon, Jackson and Ethan Phillips said they have a young relative who was diagnosed with cancer at age 18 months. The girl is now cancer free, he said.

“We did it last year (head shaving) and thought we would keep it going,” he said.

Noah Long’s parents, David and Katie of Wellsville, and his sister, Maggie, were touched by the outpouring of support shown Saturday.

“Words can’t express the support of so many people in our journey,” Katie Long said.

Katie Long has been a Toronto City School nurse for the past 10 years.

“Toronto is like a second home for us,” she said.

Noah is a second-grader at Karaffa Middle School and Maggie is in preschool in the city.

Noah was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in September. His sister, Maggie, participated with her brother in a bone marrow transplant in January, the mother said.

Noah is still at the Ronald McDonald House at Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh. Katie Long said Noah has to spend 100 days at the house after the transplant.

“Noah is getting his strength back and wants to come back home,” she said.

(Law can be contacted at mlaw@healdstaronline.com.)