Students in Wilton go bald to fight childhood cancer
WILTON - Around 45 people, which included four staff members, one of the assistant principals, two teachers, and even guidance counselor Daniel Pompa registered to have their heads shaved at Wilton High School for the school’s 12th annual St. Baldrick’s event that was scheduled for March 16.
The participants shave their heads in exchange for donations that support pediatric cancer research.
Due to the spread of the coronavirus, this year’s event was canceled, but that didn’t stop students from finding a way to participate.
With restrictions from the governor of not having large groups of people of 50 or more, the students had to get creative.
Using the idea of small groups, the kids got together and had their heads shaved. For those who didn’t participate in the groups, they shaved on their own time.
“The event we had was very small. About 10 people came, but we were all very happy we could meet up and shave together,” said Connor Burke.
Connor believes they will continue to make it the biggest and best, and they will continue every year to try and make it better than the last.
“We have worked very hard for this school year and put all our effort forward to make it a great event,” he said.
Both Jim and Sharon Burke were available at their home to shave the heads of their son Connor and a few of his friends.
Even with the setback of the location, this did not seem to affect the steady flow of the donations.
“People will continue to make/collect donations through the St. Baldrick’s online donation system,” said Eli Ackerman, a student at Wilton High School.
The students have so far raised over $16,000 and hope to make their goal of $20,000. The current total is only what has been raised online and does not include physical checks and cash.
“Usually the physical donations are collected and counted during the event, but because of it was canceled, we will have to do this process when the schools open back up,” said Ackerman.
In the 12 years that Wilton High School has had a team, it has raised a total of $250,000. Last year, students were able to raise $20,000 and are hoping to do the same this year.
“This event was supposed to be a one-shot deal 12 years ago, but I decided to keep it going,” said Daniel Pompa, a guidance counselor at the high school.
When looking back, Pompa can recall how St. Baldrick’s became a part of the Wilton community.
“It originally started at a local bar 12 years ago when a friend of mine asked me to help out with this really great cause,” said Pompa. “It really became a part of my life.”
Reed Dempsey, founder of the Wilton High School event, was the friend who originally came up with the idea and presented it to Pompa.
Aside from Dempsey, Tim Kenny from Wilton, along with John Bender and Enda McDonnell were the original founders of the St. Baldrick’s event.
Pompa says that this is fun because it forms a community. “I have always contributed to this event, and can’t seem to stop,” said Pompa.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of St. Baldrick’s, which makes it even more important to keep up with the tradition of the head shaving, no matter what the situation is. With this special anniversary, the Wilton team was going to give back in its own way.
The team was going to have awards and honor the shavees who had participated for either three, four, seven and 12 years. There was also an award for their sponsor, Dynamic Edge Physical Therapy. With the schools being closed, this will have to wait until they reopen.
The final tally of all the donations will be completed in June and the students feel confident they will make their goal.
“I think with our circumstances, we had a great event and I’m really happy that we were able to do anything,” said Connor.
To donate to St. Baldrick’s, visit https://bit.ly/3aYCRXG.