HAMMOND | City Councilman Mark Kalwinski already is committed to shaving his head Saturday to raise funds for childhood cancer research.
But he's upping the ante to part with the beard he's had for more than 30 years, saying he'll do so if he raises $7,500 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation event at Cavalier Inn.
“It's important. If people really want to see this then they are going to have to pony up,” Kalwinski said. “I'm not easily separated from my facial hair.”
The event at Cavalier Inn is one of several St. Baldrick's events planned in the region through June. The California-based nonprofit raises funds for childhood cancer research and has already raised more than $15.5 million this year at events across the nation.
The foundation is trending ahead of last year in the number of people registering to shave their heads and in events being held, said Traci Shirk, a St. Baldrick's spokeswoman. March is a busy month for the foundation, given its play on the words "bald" and St. Patrick's Day.
"I think we have over 800 events happening across the United States just in the month of March," Shirk said.
Kalwinski is participating in honor of his wife's brother who died of cancer when he was a child.
On Saturday, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr. also will have his head shaved at a St. Baldrick's fundraiser at the Hammond Academy of Science and Technology, according to event organizers. McDermott plans to match the funds he collects for St. Baldrick's and donate the proceeds to the family of a Hammond boy who is battling brain cancer.
HAST parent Janet Karas said she organized the event after one of her son's showed interest in participating. Karas plans to shave her head along with her three sons.
“Getting the whole idea out there that this is something that needs to be addressed,” Karas said. “If we could possibly raise some money and find a cure for childhood cancers maybe at some point in time it will lead to curing adult cancers.”