Wilton High students get heads shaved 'in solidarity with children with cancer' at St. Baldrick's event

WILTON — Caring for a shared community concern has kept participants going back to Wilton High School for 15 years to show — or to be shorn — that they care.

About 30 people, including many students and some school staff, gave up their hair at an evening event Tuesday, March 7, in a show of unity and to raise funds for pediatric cancer research.

The event to benefit St. Baldrick's Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds to help find cures for children with cancer, was held in cooperation with the student-organized group Conquer Kids' Cancer.

"At this event, we all shave our heads in solidarity with children with cancer," said George Hahn, an 18-year-old senior at Wilton High School, the lead organizer for the fundraising event.

After losing his father, Samuel Kevin Hahn, to cancer when he was just 4, George Hahn said this is not only a way to remember him, but also serves as a significant fundraiser, with more than $45,000 raised this year.

"Cancer's gotten too many people," said Dan Pompa, a guidance counselor at the school who is fighting the disease.

Pompa, who was the first mentor-adviser for the event and has overseen it since 2008, was honored for his work on the annual fundraiser, which has collected more than $400,000 in that time.

"No one asked him to keep doing this, but he did," Reed Dempsey said. "That's the kind of person he is."

It was Dempsey, a 2009 graduate of Wilton High who first approached Pompa with the idea after participating in several St. Baldrick's events in Fairfield. He came up from Washington, D.C., to support the group and share a few words, although he said his soon-to-be wife asked that he put off getting his head shaved again until after their May wedding.

"Wilton means so much to me, and obviously this event was an important part of my high school experience," he said.

Among those taking part was Annie McMahon, 15, the only female participant this year.

"Why not?" she said. 

"I have the chance, the opportunity, to give my support and raise money," she said. "There's about a million reasons why I can be doing this."