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Over 150 Make Bald Move at 10th Annual Hampton Roads Shave to Raise for St. Baldrick’s Foundation

The moment her father hoisted her up onto the stage, all eyes were on her. This little sprightly girl with big, soulful eyes and long brown hair. Was she going to cry? Why is she doing this? Oh… she must have….(You pray it isn’t so).

“Are you scared?” I whispered to her as my video camera ran. I captured the first buzz of the clippers as they started at the back of her head. Down tumbled locks of beautiful hair. The stylist gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder.

“No,” she said. Although I detected a twinge of ‘uh-oh’ as her ‘I’m brave’ smile turned into a nervous little giggle.

Karaline Gronbeck, 9, hasn’t looked in the mirror yet!

I looked over at her dad. He, with a camcorder perched up high. Capturing every moment. He seemed to fight back tears. I asked him if he was crying. He said no. I didn’t believe him.

When all was done, she stared at herself in a hand held mirror and smiled. This time with pride. Mission accomplished, she hopped off the stage into the arms her mother. She and dad compared shaved heads.

Karaline and dad, Chris, compare domes. Photo by Michael Smid

Her name, I found out, is Karaline Gronbeck. She is 9 years old.

“Does she…?” I started to ask her mother, Kerry Beers-Gronbeck. I couldn’t finish the sentence. I didn’t know how to. But it was the question on the minds of others, I’m sure.

Karaline was one of the 170 individuals who converged on the Westin Hotel in Virginia Beach on March 9 to participate in the Annual Hampton Roads Shave to Raise, benefiting St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a national non-profit that raises money to fund childhood cancer research.

In the U.S., more children die of childhood cancer than any other disease—more than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies and diabetes combined.

Because kids with cancer often lose their hair during treatment, “shavees” for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation show their support by shaving their heads voluntarily, and inspiring friends and family to donate money to support cancer research.

Team from Eastern Virginia Medical School are all in! Photo by Michael Smid

The question I dreaded asking Karaline’s mother was whether her little girl was going through treatment.

She is not.

“She is part of Team Mad Lucky,” Mrs. Beers-Gronbeck said. “The team captain lost his brother to cancer and she is here to support him,” she said. “I’m very proud of her. We’re all very proud of her.”

(It is understandable that Karaline and other little girls at the event drew the most attention. We girls have an obsession with our hair).

The Gronbeck family: Grandmother (top left), Mom, Kerry Beers-Gronbeck (top right), Karaline holds her shaved off pony-tails (bottom left), Dad, Chris Gronbeck (middle), sister (far right). Photo by Michael Smid

Miles Williams is Team Mad Lucky’s captain. He lost his brother to brain cancer three years ago.

Miles, 11, is also a shavee, looks almost unrecognizable with the ‘fro he had grown for the event now completely shaved off.

“It makes me feel really good to see so many people,” he says.

Under Miles’ leadership, Team Mad Lucky, consisting of 10 members between the ages of 9 and 12, raised $5,408.

Team Mad Lucky. Miles Williams (wearing glasses). Photo by Michael Smid

Like Miles, several of the shavees, including David Gosser of The Red Octopus Crusaders, have organized teams to honor the memory of their loved one. David’s son, Tommy, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma at 6 years of age. Tommy passed away in 2008 at the age of 9.

“Prior to Tommy passing, I’d heard people describe losing one’s child as the worst kind of loss anyone could go through,” David said. “It is true. It is absolutely true.”

David Gosser, Hampton Roads Shave to Raise top individual fundraiser. Team Red Octopus Crusaders.

David, who has now dedicated his life to supporting the work of St. Baldrick’s Foundation said the team chose the name “Red Octopus Crusaders” for Tommy, who loved octopi. Having raised $ $8,210.00, David is the 2013 Hampton Roads Shave to Raise top individual fundraiser. The Red Octopus Crusaders’ team of 16 raised $15,585.00, making them the 2nd top fundraisers.

The 2013 Hampton Roads Shave to Raise top fundraising team, “Yes Way, Jose!” raised $19,274.96

The Red Octopus Crusaders. Photo by Michael Smid

There’s no turning back now for members of Team Yes Way, Jose.

“Keep Calm, It’s Just Hair” Team Yes Way, Jose seems to be saying. Photo by Michael Smid

Though for a serious cause, the shave-a-thon was anything but a somber gathering. The Westin Hotel ballroom was alive with DJ music, games, raffle drawings and opportunities to take photographs with the Tides baseball team mascot, Rip Tide. A Great Clips mascot, provided by event shaving sponsor, Jim Fridtzius, also made an appearance. Mr. Fridtzius is General Manager of nine Great Clips salons in Hampton Roads.

Great Clips shavers

Great Clips mascot was there to mingle and delight

Amber Wadtke, Mrs. Virginia International 2013 was also on site to sign autographs and pose for photographs, wowing the little girls with her rhinestone studded tiara.

From L-R: Rick Rumble (FM99, event emcee), Amber Wadtke (Mrs. Virginia International 2013), Jim Fridtzius, (General Manager, Great Clips), Larry Woods (Volunteer Event Organizer). Photo by Michael Smid

“I’m having a great time,” Wadtke said. “I’m happy to be here supporting this wonderful cause.”

While St. Baldrick’s day is a lot of fun, raising money for childhood cancer research is urgent and crucial. At this writing, Hampton Roads Shave to Raise has raised $110,000 of the $150,000 goal. You can help them reach their goal! CLICK HERE to make a donation.

Sandy Baldwin hams it up for cameras with her long shaven locks

Adam Cuppett of Virginia Beach probably feeling a little like Samson

“As a teacher who lost a close student from his rookie year (Jose, of Team “Yes Way, Jose”) to pediatric cancer, the St. Baldrick’s Day Foundation has been near and dear to my heart for quite some time. This year, our campaign at Chittum Elementary School (Chesapeake, VA) yielded a new crop of fundraisers and shavees, including a school record 4 girls! It’s been especially personal this year, considering the fact that one of our own, 3rd grader, Emily Friar, has been battling leukemia. Thanks for your amazing video. Its tone resonated with our feelings of solemness, mixed with passion and levity. Hampton Roads Social really came through with a piece to tie it all up!” – Steven Lin

CLICK HEREto learn more about St. Baldrick’s Foundation

CLICK HERE and HERE to see more photographs from Hampton Roads Shave to Raise!

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Comments (7)

  1. Larry Woods Friday - 15 / 03 / 2013 Reply
    Thank you for this beautiful article and time taken to put it together. It is very much appreciated. ~Larry Woods St. Baldricks Hampton Roads Event Organizer
    • HRSocial Friday - 15 / 03 / 2013 Reply
      You are most welcome Larry. There is so much more to be done. You, your team, and the entire organization have inspired us to help spread the word.
  2. David Gosser Saturday - 16 / 03 / 2013 Reply
    I appreciate being included in this great article about St. Baldrick's. However, I would like to add/correct a fact: the RED Octopus Crusaders are a team composed by three families who have angels. RED represents Nina Hermes-Thompson. My Tommy is the Octopus, but the Crusaders come from Krissy Kral. I just wanted to clarify that the ROC is a team, #2 this year (always # 1, 2, or 3). We are a locus for a network of hundreds of donors, as one sick child sends ripples across the land. Finally, I must also clarify this point: I will shave my head every year to keep a promise made to my dying son, Tommy, who asked me to do it and save other children. It's an honor and a privilege to do this for such a noble, courageous, and innocent boy, for all the innocent angels, to keep their ranks from growing. Thank you for the coverage, David Gosser
    • HRSocial Monday - 18 / 03 / 2013 Reply
      Thank you for the clarification, Mr. Gosser. We regret the error.
  3. Mark Riva Saturday - 16 / 03 / 2013 Reply
    I guess TEAM Averi had left early, we had 12 people there and I believe we raised over 8K...........
    • HRSocial Monday - 18 / 03 / 2013 Reply
      We're sorry we missed Team Averi! Congratulations on your fundraising success!
  4. maMark Hoggard Saturday - 16 / 03 / 2013 Reply
    I'm so proud to be part of this organization. What a fun way to turn around so many sad stories! Thanks for supporting us.

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