For Blackwood Fire Co., Fighting Cancer Is Personal
More than five dozen fire company members and their families have signed up to shave their heads on March 24 for St. Baldrick's Day to raise money and awareness to fight cancer.
For Debbie Simone, the fight against cancer is personal.
"We have two little kids in Blackwood with cancer that are hosting our event this year," said Simone, the president of the auxiliary of the Blackwood Fire Company in Gloucester Township. "It hits close to home. My 69-year-old mother-in-law is going to get her head shaved to honor her daughter, my sister-in-law, who lost her battle with cancer last year. She was just 45."
The Blackwood and Chews Landing fire companies and the Reliance Fire Company of Woodstown are sponsoring a St. Baldrick's Day event in Gloucester Township on March 24 to raise money for pediatric cancer research and raise awareness about the challenges cancer patients face, especially children with cancer.
"We have about 64 people who are volunteering to have their heads shaved," she said. "We walk around afterward like the kids who lose their hair during treatment. We do it to try to boost the spirit of the children and to raise money."
Participants get sponsors to donate money on their behalf. The donations go to the national St. Baldrick's Foundation to fund pediatric cancer research.
Nico Cassabria, 6, a student at Blackwood Elementary School, and Nicole Cristella, 10, who attends Charles W. Lewis Middle School, are this year's honorees and hosts of the event. Cassabria has been diagnosed with neuroblastoma and Cristella with Ewing's sarcoma.
Nicole's dad, Mike Cristella, is a Blackwood fire commissioner and Nico's mother is a dispatcher with the township police.
"These are innocent kids," Simone said. "A lot of times they are in treatment all day in hospitals. These are kids who go to school with my seven kids. I can feel the pain of mothers who may not know how long they're going to have them with them."
The event is on Sunday, March 24 at Sam's Bar and Grill, 1007 S. Black Horse Pike, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact Debbie Simone at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can also be made online at stbaldricks.org/events/blackwoodfirecompany.
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