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Father-daughter duo to go bald for cancer research

By From page A1 | February 07, 2013

North Davis Elementary student Victoria Savage pretends to cut her father Stewart's hair on Tuesday. The pair will shave their heads in March to raise money to fight childhood cancer through the St. Baldrick's foundation. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

How much money would it take to get you to shave your head?

$50? $100? $500?

Stewart and Victoria Savage will do it for $1,000, and they’ve nearly raised that much from people willing to pay.

On the evening of Wednesday, March 13, Savage, director of the Davis Downtown Business Association, and his daughter Victoria, a first-grader at North Davis Elementary School, will sit down in chairs at de Vere’s Irish Pub in Davis, alongside many other brave souls, and have all of the hair shaved off their heads.

In doing so, they will be taking part in a nationwide effort to fight childhood cancer, as all of the pledges collected by participants will go to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which has provided millions of dollars in research grants to cancer researchers since three insurance executives in New York City started the tradition 14 years ago.

And no, St. Baldrick is neither the patron saint of cancer nor haircuts — the name is simply a combination of “bald” and St. Patrick’s Day. Back in 1999, the three founders decided to turn their St. Patrick’s Day party into a benefit for pediatric oncology research by shaving their heads — in other words, “Going Bald on St. Patrick’s Day.”

Fourteen years later, thanks to participation all over the country — and around the world — their foundation has been able to fund more than $100 million in cancer research.

Locally, the owners of de Vere’s have been participating at their Sacramento and Davis pubs, organizing the event and lining up professionals to take care of the shaving. This year they’ve even instituted a friendly challenge to see which of the two pubs can raise the most. Currently the Sacramento pub is ahead, but with Victoria Savage in the mix, that could change.

She’s already picked up more than $500 in pledges — well ahead of her dad’s total.

How?

“Because I’m cuter than him,” she suggested.

Dad agrees.

And he’s thrilled to have a partner.

Savage said he learned about the St. Baldrick’s fundraiser last year and was intrigued, so much so that he decided to participate this year. But he didn’t want to do it alone.

“I wanted a partner,” he explained.

He asked friends but got no takers. His wife, Roberta, wasn’t inclined to shave her head either. But Victoria was.

And it’s not the first time she’s cut her hair for cancer.

Her very first haircut, her dad said, was a donation to Locks of Love, which uses human hair to make wigs for cancer patients who have lost their own hair.

Still, a total buzz cut is very different from a simple haircut.

Before they signed up to participate in the St. Baldrick’s fundraiser, Savage sat down with Victoria and explained the commitment she was making: “You can’t raise all this money and then not do it,” he told her.

But Victoria was completely on board. It likely helped that a classmate participated in the event last year, so Victoria had a pretty good idea of what she was in for.

Now the duo are busy collecting pledges and are nearing their team goal of $1,000 with a full month to go.

Friends, colleagues, grandparents and even Victoria’s classmates’ families have donated.

Just about everyone, Savage noted, has been touched by cancer in one way or another. He lost his father to cancer in 2011 and has known many people who’ve gone through similar battles.

“There are so many stories out there,” he said. “I had a good friend who lost a child to cancer and it would break my heart if something like that were to happen to Victoria. So I’m doing it for her, for all the children, and for the parents.”

And Victoria?

She knows what she’s doing will help in the fight against cancer. But she also sees a few perks to going bald for a bit as well.

Not a big fan of having her hair brushed by dad, she’ll get to avoid that for a while. And she won’t have to waste so much bath time getting her hair washed either.

“I can just play in the bathtub,” she noted with glee.

Victoria and her dad are officially “Team Super Shavers.” Donate to Victoria’s pledge drive at http://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/victoriasavage or to her dad’s at http://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/stewartsavage. Or start a team. Sign up or learn more about the de Vere’s event, which gets under way at 5 p.m. on March 13 at its website, http://deverespub.com/annual-events/st-baldricks-day.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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