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Cancer Fight By Community

St. Baldrick’s events raise money, hair donations for cancer patients

While a local boy battles a rare form of cancer, he can take heart in knowing he is not alone in his fight. The community has come together in several ways to help raise money for Nicholas Pedone and his family so they can cover their medical costs.

On St. Patrick’s Day, The Downtown Cafe hosted a St. Baldrick’s event for the sixth year in a row, while also taking in $7,300 in donations for Nicholas. 

Nicholas, 7, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called neuroblastoma last fall and community members immediately pulled together to give him support. Fundraising events have taken place all over town, from ice cream sales at Landing Elementary to requests for donations at Stop & Shop. On the Friday before Christmas, he had a surprise visit from Santa, who showed up on his street on a fire truck with a big bag of toys. On April 7, a 5k Run/Walk will take place in Nicholas Pedone’s honor, starting at Glen Cove High School. 

John Zozzaro, owner of the Downtown Cafe, has been hosting St. Baldrick’s events for the past six years and included other ways to raise money for Nicholas this year, including selling t-shirts, personalized shamrocks and bracelets. He said, “Everybody’s been affected by cancer in one way or another, young or old. I have a sweet spot for the kids.”

 This year, he says it “hit home” even more since he went to high school with Nicholas’ parents.

More than 100 people donated money to have their heads shaved this year at the St. Baldrick’s event at the Downtown Cafe, bringing in $30,000 for St. Baldrick’s this year. Many local barbers and stylists donated their time and talent, including Brian Basile and Danny Colasante from Strong Island Styles, Jillian Rich from the Downtown Cafe, Shannon Montefusco and Katelyn Potenza from Dana & Co, Rosa Burzo from L’immagine, and a stylist from Nubest Salon.

In coordination with St. Baldrick’s, Sherry’s Salon in Glen Cove also opened its doors on St. Patrick’s Day to give free cuts and styles to a group of medical students interested in donating their hair to cancer patients. Volunteers chose to have either eight or 10 inches cut, with the hair either going to Locks of Love or Pantene Beautiful Lengths for wigs and hairpieces, and a total of 10 feet of hair was collected and donated this year. 

Julie Ramalay, an osteopathic medical student at NYIT, helped organize the event. She said since all of the participants lived in the area, they wanted to find a local business willing to participate.

“I was motivated to donate because a close friend of mine was diagnosed with lymphoma three years ago,” says Ramalay. “Her hair was beginning to fall out so I went with her to have it cut. It was the first time I saw her get upset since her diagnosis. For her being bald was a constant reminder of her illness and I know that having a wig allowed her to go out and do normal things without feeling sick. So I wanted to be able to give that to someone else who needed it.”

“My sophomore year of college, one of my close friends was finally cancer free, and we threw a party for her. Ever since then, I have been donating my hair. I’m so happy that this year, I was able to do it with my fellow classmates,” said Krystal Lee, who is in her second year as an osteopathic medical student at NYIT.

“It was a crazy but wonderful experience,” said Daniela Scaldaferri McCooey, another second-year med student. “I was a little nervous because I’ve never donated my hair before. Having all the girls rally around in such an upbeat way made it really fun and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again!”

Each of the participants walked out with the full salon experience, from a shampoo to a cut and style, without having to spend a dime, and with the satisfaction of knowing their hair would be made into wigs. 

“Sherry has been a blessing and has truly made it a special experience for everyone,” said Ramalay. “She’s not normally open on Sundays and is doing this just for us. It’s great to see how many people are willing to donate their hair and I was proud to be a part of it. I only hope that NYIT-COM and Sherry’s continue forward with this yearly as part of St. Baldrick’s.”

To donate or learn more, visit www.stbaldricks.org, locksoflove.org, nicholaspedone.com. Registration forms for the Nicholas Pedone 5K can be downloaded from the school district’s website, www.glencove.k12.ny.us.