Infinite Love and the Middletown Fire Department coordinated their efforts and held the first annual Shave a Hero/Save a Hero fundraising event on July 29, 2017 at Community Fire Station #4 in Leonardo. Besides the shaving portion of the event, there was a DJ, balloon artist, face painting, raffle baskets, and food, as well as cakes, plants and jewelry for sale. A Dunk Tank was available and children enjoyed dunking the firefighters. An estimated 400-500 people attended throughout the four-hour event and at least 70 heads were shaved. Andrea Verdone Gorsegner, founder of Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer, said the event raised over $40,000 for childhood cancer research. “Thanks to our shavees, our volunteers, sponsors and the community, our 1st annual Shave a Hero/Save a Hero event was more successful then we had imagined.”
Six professional hair stylists volunteered to do the shaving, including Mr. Bill Verdone, and some of the Middletown Firefighters. Police, Fire and First Aid representatives from Keansburg, Fair Haven, Holmdel, Little Silver, Long Branch, Union Beach, Highlands, South Amboy and Howell volunteered to be shaved. Six principals from Middletown Schools also participated. Three of them had asked students to donate a dollar to Infinite Love, which meant their name was put in a drawing and the winning student got to shave their Principal’s head! Some childhood cancer survivors also shaved a few of the firefighters’ heads, including Amelia Carter, a ewing sarcoma survivor who shaved her dad Jason’s head. Children as young as three allowed themselves to be shaved, as well as men from 20 through 60. Gorsegner noted that one woman shaved her head completely bald and a little girl allowed her ponytail to be cut off.
Gorsegner, who has had waist-length hair for most of her life, fought an initial nervousness at having her head completely shaved. Her daughter Natalie, who will be eight in September and who has been cancer free since November 2014, shaved her mother’s head. Daughter Hannah, who shaved her head for the fourth year in a row, held her mother’s hand during the shave. “All I could think about during the shaving were the thousands of kids currently in treatment who have NO choice in losing their hair. How, not only do they lose the hair on the top of their heads, but they lose their eyebrows and eyelashes as well. For me I come out of this looking as if I have a trendy haircut, for these kids it’s the complete opposite, it’s traumatic and it’s lonely. There is nothing that is brave about what I did. For me it was about raising awareness and money for pediatric cancer research. These kids are the brave ones and quite honestly, most of them probably wish that they didn’t have to be so brave to begin with,” said Gorsegner.
The idea for this event came from John Waltz, 1st Lieutenant Community Fire Company Station 4 and Ryan Clarke, Deputy Chief Middletown Township Fire Department noted Gorsegner. They felt it was a means of raising money for Infinite Love and honoring six-year-old Mia McCaffrey, who starred in the video “Fighter” filmed last year at the Leonardo Fire House. Both firefighters appeared in the video. Young Mia passed away this past March 17 from parameningeal rhabdomyosarcoma. “Every year Infinite Love chooses a different form of childhood cancer to focus our fundraising on, and for 2017 our goal is to raise $200,000 for parameningeal rhabdomyosarcoma research in Mia’s name,” said Gorsegner. The song “Fighter” was written and performed by Taylor Tote along with Natalie Grace and Hannah Rose Gorsegner. Taylor Tote, who has become a close family friend of the Gorsegners, stopped in at the event to cheer everyone on.
“I am so thankful to Ryan and John for approaching me about this shave, to the entire Middletown Fire Department for embracing our Foundation and the children that we fight for, and of course to the little girl, Mia McCaffrey (forever six-years-old), who inspired it all,” said Gorsegner.
Visit www.infiniteloveforkidsfightingcancer.org for information about the Foundation and for information about the “Fighter” video.
Upcoming in October will be Infinite Love’s “Wish for a Cure” event – A Night Out to Support Childhood Cancer Research. The event will be held October 5, 2017 at McLoone’s Pier House in Long Branch from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. and will include hors d’oeurves, food stations, desserts, open bar, raffles, prizes, and a live performance by award-winning Taylor Tote and her Band. Tickets are $100 online or $120 at the door; $50 for a Combination Package; and $50 for a Golden Package. Visit the above website for more details.