OSWEGO — Despite canceling their annual head-shaving event at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center for the second straight year, local organizers of the 15th annual St. Baldrick’s Day in Oswego are moving forward with this year’s fundraising efforts.
“It will be remote; it will be virtual,” said veteran Volunteer Event Organizer Dan Witmer, “and maybe our overall fundraising goal will be lower than usual, but the need is still there, so we’re going to do our best.”
According to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, last year’s 2020 worldwide donation totals suffered a 30% decrease due to cancelled events and no face-to-face fundraising. Still, the Oswego group was able to raise more than $68,000. “We canceled with two weeks to go until our event, and we were doing very well, but once we canceled, the donations just froze,” said treasurer Sandy Pike. “Had we been able to hold our event, we might have been close to $100,000, which would be a record for us.”
In 2020, 27 fundraising teams registered, as well as 105 shavees. With a very soft opening, so far this year’s efforts include seven teams, 25 shavees, and just over $12,000, but Witmer and his committee are optimistic. “We’re hoping to get more teams registered, more repeat participants, and hopefully some new faces, too.”
So far, the Fulton Police Benevolent Association fundraising team has the most members (20) and the most money raised ($7,350). Other teams registered on the Oswego St. Baldrick’s website include the Ancient Order of Hibernians, The Bearded Brethren, Team #22, Laker Lacrosse Alumni, Team Witmer — CO, and The Better Witmer Team — PRG.
“My sons are in Denver and Prague, and they decided to go head-to-head in their fundraising efforts this year — long distance — so they created their own teams. May the best team win!” explained Witmer.
Registration is easy, and without an actual date for a culminating event, everyone is free to do whatever they want at their own pace.
“We’d like to wrap things up by May or June, so people can do what they choose — post photos, go to their barber or stylist, make a video, etc,” said Pike.
This is Witmer’s 15th year organizing the Oswego St. Baldrick’s fundraising efforts and, to date, the first 14 events have raised more than $821,500. Sandy and Dom Pike — and son Chris — have been involved since year two.
“We’ve got some newer committee members, but we’ve had some others for a number of years. This year and last year have been tough; everyone was thrown off-balance. We had the main event down to a tee, and everyone knew what had to get done. Things are much tougher now, but we’re grateful to every donor, every shavee, every volunteer,” said Witmer.
Anyone who shows $50 or more on their account will get a St. Baldrick’s T-shirt, and a commemorative pin goes to those who raise more than $10.
“I’d love to see more community participation — business teams, family teams, neighborhood teams,” says Witmer. “Maybe a Fulton JV baseball team challenges the Oswego varsity track and field team, or a restaurant from one side of the river challenges another on the other side. Firefighters, County Sheriffs, and State Police have supported us in the past, but we could get banks, hospitals, and car dealerships involved, too. Minor Hockey, Little League, Pop Warner. The possibilities are endless, and these kids who are sick with cancer need the help, the research grants, now more than ever.”