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It's difficult to glean positives from the life-and-death struggles of children, much less identify anything to smile about.

In about two months — and for a second-annual occurrence — I again intend to give you something to smile or perhaps laugh hysterically about in the important fight against childhood cancer.

Accompanying this column today is a website link where I'm asking you to donate to a St. Baldrick's account in my name.

Those familiar with the organization know that it recruits folks every year to seek donations for childhood cancer research and serve as "shavees." The payoff for donors — aside from helping in this important battle — is to see the shavee to whom they donate research funds publicly sheared in one of hundreds of St. Baldrick's shaving events throughout the country.

So get ready to take aim, Northwest Indiana. If you're a fan or a critic of my regular commentary in The Times, here's your chance to show how much you really care — or to exact revenge.

My hair and beard, which I'll be growing wild from now until March 12, will be reduced to a barren wasteland if you help me reach my fundraising goal.

Last year, I participated in the St. Baldrick's event on St. Patrick's Day at the Crown Point Fire Department's annual head-shearing event.

This year, I'll perch in a barber's chair for the St. Baldrick's shaving event sponsored by the Nick Foundation March 12 in Merrillville.

The Nick Foundation is one of my favorite local nonprofits, providing moral and financial support for children and families waging war against cancer's many horrific childhood forms.

Within the next few weeks through my upcoming columns, you'll begin to meet some of those Region children and families who are battling or have lost the fight to childhood cancer.

They all need your help. You all want to see me bald — or at least may take some sinister satisfaction in leaving my scalp bare in the cold-weather season.

Please help by clicking or signing on to my St. Baldrick's donation page at:

My hair is going. That's already a promise.

But if I exceed my fundraising goal of $1,800, the beard goes, too. It all helps fund childhood cancer research.

This year, I also want to recognize other fearless bare-domed crusaders who part with their locks for the St. Baldrick's charity.

During the next few months, if you're participating as a Baldrick's shavee, please send me your event information and follow up with "before and after" photos of your shaving experience.

If I receive enough of them, I'll publish them in a Times Sunday Forum section in late March or April and through an online gallery at nwi.com.

Many of you will remember that last year, I shaved both head and face in honor of Griffith boy Adler Shelbourne and Valparaiso girl Miranda Jackson.

Both children died of cancer before making it to their preschool years, leaving behind the decimated hearts of grieving parents and unrealized lives and dreams.

Adler's mom, Stephanie Shelbourne, continues to keep her little boy's memory alive each year by celebrating his birthday party in a local fundraiser. This year, Adler's party is scheduled for Jan. 22 — next Sunday — at Tyler's Tender, a kid-friendly restaurant with a railroad theme at 350 U.S. 30 in Schererville. Adler loved trains, so the location is appropriate.

Throughout the day, proceeds from meals purchased at the restaurant will help children and families struggling with cancer. Birthday cake, face painting and other games will be available for children. Please consider stopping by.

I'm shaving in honor of Adler and Miranda again this year, but also will be adding the names of other children to my list of honorees in the coming weeks as I profile their fights against this scourge.

Please be sure to read their stories in upcoming editions and visit my Baldrick's page to donate and make that struggle a little less daunting for so many brave little people.

Editorial Page Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or marc.chase@nwi.com. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marc.chase.9 or Twitter @nwi_MarcChase. The opinions are the writer's.

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Local News Editor

Marc Chase is a veteran investigative reporter, columnist and editor of more than two decades. He currently leads The Times news staff as local news editor. He can be reached at 219-933-3327.