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Balding for Dollars hits close to home for participants

Community raised over $16,000 for child cancer programs in B.C.



Musician Rajan Das doesn't usually sport much hair to begin with.

Fortunately, that hasn't stopped him from shaving off what little fuzz he has at each of the past 12 Balding for Dollars events in Whistler, raising more than $10,000 in all for child cancer programs in B.C.

"It's a bit of a con really," said Das of his typical close-cropped hairdo, who explained why he's chosen to be a perennial participant in the popular charity event.

"It's a really good cause, everybody is connected to cancer, and it's always such a tragedy when kids get afflicted with such a serious disease," he said.

The Whistlerite, who gathered over $1,500 this year, was one of 15 people who had their locks lopped off by the team from Blackcomb Barber Shoppe, drawing hundreds of cheering onlookers at the GLC on Saturday, March 29.

Over $16,000 was raised this year, and a whopping $221,000 over the last 12, funds that will support a variety of programs at the BC Children's Hospital, from cancer research to medical technology and quality of life care for children afflicted with the disease.

"It's a lot of the things that don't get looked at through conventional funding methods," said organizer Dave Clark. "It's quality of life stuff for a lot of kids, and for those chronically ill kids that aren't going to reach 15, it gives them a chance to do things like, sleep over at the (Vancouver) Aquarium or go to Camp Goodtimes, those kinds of things that are dreams of a lifetime for those kids."

Clark, who also organizes the Whistler Half Marathon, inspired his seven-year-old son Ryan to participate for the first time. Ryan was one of a trio of youngsters to shave their heads this year, all three of which are in the same Grade 1/2 split class at Myrtle Philip.

"I just wanted to raise money for the sick kids," Ryan said, agreeing that his new aerodynamic do will help him ski faster down the hill.

Dave and his son came into Saturday's fundraiser with just over $1,000 in contributions between them, but Ryan was able to procure even more donations just by walking around the bar. Walsh Restorations owner Mike Wallace also gave him a sizable contribution for his buzzed head. The individual with the most funds raised this year was Douglas de la Mare, with $1,420.

This year's fundraiser hit especially close to home for Amanda Stocks, owner of the Blackcomb Barber Shoppe, who has been involved with the fundraiser since its inception. Stock's stepfather, Bill Irwin, was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and he decided to make the trip up from Vancouver to get a haircut from his stepdaughter before starting treatment next week. Stocks' niece, whose mother passed away from breast cancer last year, was also in town from Toronto, and things got a little emotional for all of them at the GLC Saturday.

"It had more sentimental meaning for me this year," Stocks said. "You hear stories (about cancer) in the news all the time, but it's always over there, but all of a sudden the story was getting closer and closer to home, and now it's here. It's that C-word, I hate that C-word."

Clark wanted to take the opportunity to extend his gratitude to the community for their overwhelming support once again.

"We're so grateful we've got such a supportive community and we're able to pull something like this together and support the hospital, the kids in our community and across B.C. that do get sick," he said. "It's pretty special."


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