This weekend, during the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Glen Cove, another annual tradition will continue, one that supports a very important cause. For 10 years now, the Downtown Café has hosted a St. Baldrick’s event in front of the heavily trafficked restaurant to raise money for childhood cancer research, while encouraging participants to show their solidarity by having their heads shaved. The event has raised thousands of dollars locally and sees many repeat participants, including children.
William Romeo, 11, a sixth-grader at Robert M. Finley Middle School, has been participating since he was a toddler.
“We were watching the parade and saw the people getting their heads shaved and he wanted to do it, too,” said Annie Phillips, Romeo’s mom. “He gets excited about it and has kept doing it every year.”
Romeo was not yet 2 the first year and is now gearing up for his 10th year. Phillips said her son loves having his head shaved and she makes him stop cutting it after the holidays to prepare for the event. Every year, she said they aim to raise $500 and have raised nearly $5,000 to date. She said they feel it’s particularly important to raise money for childhood cancer research because it is extremely underfunded and kids’ cancers are different from adult cancers.
Because of his longterm commitment to the cause, Romeo has joined the ranks as a Knight of the Bald Table and is raising money with the United Nations.
John Zozzaro, owner of the Downtown Café at 4 School St. in Glen Cove, began hosting the event in 2007 and has so far raised $1,000 this year. The fundraising goal for this location is $30,000 for 2017. His restaurant is also holding a fundraiser for the Nicholas Pedone Foundation at the same time and will be selling shamrocks and bracelets at the café to benefit that local foundation.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-powered charity that funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government. According to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website, the organization promises to “invest all donations wisely with researchers at hundreds of institutions worldwide, not just one hospital, and support the most innovative projects that are leading the way to cures for kids with cancer.” The idea for the fundraiser began in 1999 and the foundation was formed in 2004. Last year, the total amount raised was $38,648,195. Since 2005, more than $200 million in research grant funding has been raised.