The Montana City School gym became a barber shop Saturday afternoon, as 50 people came in for a clean shave. Their goal – going bald, to raise money and awareness for the fight against childhood cancer.
It was all part of Montana City’s tenth annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser. Volunteers agreed to have their heads shaved in exchange for donations to cancer research.
Ken Kluth, a captain with the Montana City Volunteer Fire Department, organizes the event. He started it in 2008, after a challenge from his brother, a police officer in Littleton, Colorado.
The first fundraiser was held in the old fire station on Mission Mountain Road, with mostly firefighters taking part. It collected just $5,600.
Since then, the event has raised a total of more than $400,000.
“Never had a clue that it would end up like the event that it is,” Kluth said.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a nationwide charity, with more than 1,000 head-shaving events held around the country each year. Kluth says this one has drawn a lot of attention.
“The people from St. Baldrick’s have contacted me, and they cannot believe,” he said. “The amount of money that we raise for the size of our community is outstanding.”
Over the past five years, no one has raised more money for the cause than Kelly DeLaHunt, who came into the gym with long gray hair and a full beard. He says he first got involved with St. Baldrick’s after a dare with his friends.
“We figured out who could raise the most money in a week and come out here and get our head shaved,” he said.
DeLaHunt raised $4,400, so he came to the fundraiser.
“Seeing what was on the table up there got my heart broke, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” he said.
What DeLaHunt saw was the Honored Kids Table, featuring photos and stories of Montana kids who’ve faced cancer. Each white rose symbolizes a life lost to the disease. Two of the lives cut short include Kluth’s two nephews.
“Those little kids, they don’t deserve to go through this,” said DeLaHunt. “Any help that we can give them, I’ll give them.”
There are signs of hope. Another of the Honored Kids is James Buchanan, a nine-year-old Helena boy. He received an experimental cancer treatment from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, made possible by the kind of research this event supports.
“He actually is a survivor today because of people like us that donated,” said Kluth.
Now cancer-free, James was at the Montana City gym Saturday – one of three childhood cancer survivors getting their heads shaved. He won a medal as the year’s top fundraiser.
By the time all the heads were shaved, more than $68,000 had been collected. But the fundraiser is still going on online. If you’d like to help, you can make a donation here.
“It’s never too late,” Kluth said. “It’s amazing the difference one person can make.”
“Every bit helps,” said DeLaHunt. “It’s the best cause I’ve found.”