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Morris residents shave heads, raise money for childhood cancer research

MORRIS – Kirk Bauer of Gardner learned about Luchi Eberhard from his boss, and knew immediately the 7-year-old with cancer was worth doing something big for.

As Bauer sat down in a chair Sunday afternoon at the American Legion Post 294 in Morris, he didn’t even flinch when he heard the hair clippers come to life behind him.

After all, Becca West from Great Clips Hair Salon had already put his long locks into a ponytail and cut it off. Now she was taking the clippers to his head to shave off 15 years worth of hair.

“I wanted to be able to help in whatever way I could,” Bauer said. “I was 9 years old the last time I had short hair.”

Bauer’s boss, Brent Newman, CEO of the Grundy County Housing Authority, declared he would be shaving his head for Luchi and started the team “Love on Luchi” on St. Baldrick's Foundation website. Newman announced his team to his friends Feb. 7 on Facebook with just nine days to reach a donation goal of $250. He reached the $250 in just one day, causing him to raise his goal.

“It was the most physical thing I could think of to show the Eberhards how much I care for them,” Newman said.

That post inspired Bauer to join in.

“I heard Brent was doing it and I thought if he can get money for his 2 inches of hair, I should be able to get double for mine,” Bauer said.

Soon the residents of Saratoga Tower in Morris heard what the employees were doing and the want to do something positive for Luchi grew.

At their February resident council meeting, the residents voted to donate $800 from funds set aside for use in the laundry facility in the building to St. Baldrick’s in honor of the Love on Luchi team.

“It is humbling – very humbling – to think people who some think have so little can be so generous with money they could have spent to benefit only themselves,” Newman wrote in his Facebook post. “Maybe they know what we have suspected all along – life is about what we give, not just what we take.”

The two men sat next to each other in the chairs as swipe after swipe of their hair fell to the ground.

Luchi, who has leukemia, stood watching as his friends quickly got a haircut that looked just like his.

“It’s weird,” he said. “It makes me feel good.”

His little brother, Gunnar, found their new haircuts quite amusing.

“They look funny, like dad,” Gunnar said.

Both Newman and Bauer said they would do it again, and have no regrets to their new hairdo.

“I think everybody is worth something,” Newman said. “Because they are worth something, I have something to give, something to support kids like Luchi, and Luchi [himself].”

This is the second year the event has been hosted by Paul Crisman, director of the Legion Riders and senior vice commander of the American Legion Post.

“I’ve been to a few different events, some were so big,” he said. “I wanted to keep this a small town event.”

The event grew this year with nine registered for the event and several giving verbal commitments to show up and participate.

They held the event in honor of both Luchi Eberhard and Mariah Diaz, two young people battling cancer from Morris. Diaz has Burkitt’s Lymphoma. She was not present at the event Sunday.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a charity committed to funding research to find cures for childhood cancers. Only 4 percent of all federal cancer research funding is dedicated to pediatric cancer research, and the charity and it’s volunteers try to fill in the gap.

Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has awarded more than $101 million to support research, making it the largest private funder of childhood cancer research.

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