October 21, 2021

A hair-razing fundraiser

42 lose their locks as part of annual St. Baldrick’s event

Kevin Conlon/city editor

Barber Angelo DiPietro shaves the head of Baldwinsville resident Roxanne Davis during Saturday’s St. Baldrick’s fundraiser for juvenile cancer research and treatment. Forty-two people had their heads, and in some cases beards, shaved off during the event at Red Jug Pub in Cortland.

Ryan Card of Homer and Scott Pudney of Cortland had been waiting for this moment for 413 days. It showed.

The beards on the faces of the two lifelong friends were more than 9 inches long. They had not trimmed their beards since they were shaved bald at an annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser more than a year ago.

They sat Saturday afternoon in chairs in an alley next to the Red Jug Pub on Central Avenue in Cortland as Angelo and Benita DiPietro cut their long beards and hair for this year’s event.

The DiPietros run their 60-year-old barbershop on Hubbard Street in the city.

“I do this every year,” said Card, a union bricklayer. “It feels good to give back. Helping children with cancer is a big deal.”

He and Pudney agreed there is a trick to maintaining their long beards — “lots of product,” such as conditioner and shampoos.

They said they are members of a Facebook group for men with beards, called Beard On. Card said several members wished him luck on his shave, as they were following his progress toward the fundraiser.

He said he heard about the event from his girlfriend, who works at The Red Jug Pub.

Pudney, a truck driver who has not been working due to disability, said he learned about the fundraiser from his friend, Card, and joined in.

The nonprofit St. Baldrick’s Foundation raises funds to help find cures for children with cancer.

As Angelo DiPietro shaved the head of Roxanne Davis of Baldwinsville, tattoos of nine shamrocks were uncovered on her scalp.

Davis, a retired Oswego city schools teacher whose father was born in Cortland, said she would soon have 10 shamrock tattoos to mark the tenth time she had her head shaved for a St. Baldrick’s fundraiser.

She said the shamrock is a symbol of the event, adding “and I’m a good Irish girl.” She explained that her teaching career led her to participate.

“I work with kids,” she said. “I always want to do it, so I took the plunge 10 years ago.

The first year, she went alone and for the next five some of her students participated with her.

Tom Terwilliger, owner of the Red Jug Pub, said 42 people were shaved for this year’s event, down from the typical of about 60 in the years before the pandemic. Terwilliger said $18,000 had been raised this year, bringing the total for the past eight years to about $240,000. He has had similar events at his other taverns in Oneonta and Brockport.

“Cancer has been a big part of my life,” Terwilliger said, noting several relatives who have had cancer. “Cortland has been very generous.”