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It elicited a perfect union of otherwise conflicting emotions.

With a green barber cloth aproning his body, 4-year-old Landon Wagner giggled at the site of 7-year-old friend Logan Brkovic's head being reduced to baldness by salon stylist Julie Compton.

Landon's little laugh spread contagiously to Logan, who chuckled from behind a pair of rock-star-yellow sunglasses and then on to Compton as she drew hair clippers across Logan's scalp.

Yet through the laughter, which also affected a number of spectators watching the boys, it was hard to fight back tears in this moment of levity.

You see, Logan was having his head shaved in solidarity with Landon, who earlier in his young life didn't have much to laugh about.

Landon is a kidney cancer survivor, having been through a life-threatening disease and crippling treatments at an age when most of us rest and play with little or none of life's burdens.

On this particular Sunday earlier this month, Landon and Logan sat side by side in a Merrillville union hall as Compton and another hairdresser shaved their heads in the culmination of fundraising efforts for St. Baldrick's Foundation childhood cancer research.

They struck a most meaningful portrait of childhood cancer survival.

The boys were part of a St. Baldrick's head-shaving team that raised $5,271 at the annual event, sponsored by the NICK Foundation.

Their friendship, laughter and purpose should touch all of our hearts, but they certainly weren't alone in "braving the shave."

Dozens of Region residents raised funds this year and then submitted to head shearings at 12 St. Baldrick's events sponsored by organizations throughout Northwest Indiana.

As of Friday afternoon, those events collectively garnered $172,868 in proceeds that will be converted into research grants for fighting childhood cancer, one of the Region and nation's leading causes of child death.

They're collective efforts are an incredible example of accomplishment based on sacrifice, common purpose and an infusion of humorous fun.

I've written extensively about childhood cancers over the years, often focusing on Region families who lost sons and daughters to various strains of this horrible disease.

On March 12, I had the honor of having my head shaved, side-by-side with fathers, mothers, concerned citizens and childhood cancer survivors like Landon.

Generous Times readers, family and friends helped me raise $5,580 for the cause, likely making it one of the most expensive haircuts in recorded history. A special thank-you list attached to this column recognizes all of the donors to my specific effort.

Beyond the real hilarity of watching adults and children go bald for a cause was the realization that for every child cancer death I've chronicled, there are many more, just like Landon, who survived.

They did so on the steam of ever-improving cancer treatment, often funded with grant money of the sort St. Baldrick's provides.

Our Region can be proud of the earnest way in which so many Northwest Indiana residents volunteer, raise funds and go bald so more Landons of the world can survive to sit on a St. Baldrick's barber stool and giggle as a buddy rocks the bald.

Thanks to everyone who contributed a figurative brush to the effort of painting such a portrait.

Editorial Page Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or Follow him on Facebook at or Twitter @nwi_MarcChase. The opinions are the writer's.


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.