FAIRFIELD, Conn. — In March 2010, Fairfield third-grader Teddy Gerber shaved his dad’s head as part of the annual St. Baldrick’s event at Osborn Hill School to raise money for children’s cancer research.
Less than six months later, Teddy, who had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of pediatric cancer, passed away at the age of 9.
Teddy’s family and friends will gather to honor his memory and support children with cancer at the eighth annual St. Baldrick’s/Team Teddy-OHS event, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 24 at the school.
Teddy’s mom, Jessica Gerber, said she’s happy to support the St. Baldrick’s Foundation because it gave her son a bright moment during his battle with undifferentiated sarcoma.
“Seeing all of his friends getting their heads shaved and looking like him made him feel like he wasn’t strange or different,” she said of the Fairfield event, which has raised more than $800,000 to date.
“He was always very sensitive about losing his hair from chemo, but the night of the St. B’s event he took off his hooded sweatshirt, which he wore constantly, because, as he said, ‘I’m not the only bald person here anymore.’”
Anyone interested in raising money by having their head shaved can sign up in advance by going to www.stbaldricks.org and typing in “Team Teddy — Osborn Hill School.” “Shavees” can also sign up in person on the 24th.
Don’t want to go under the razor? You can still participate by sponsoring a shavee online or in person.
There will also be a bake sale and a raffle for prizes big and small, including tickets for a Red Sox-Yankees game and Billy Joel and a new bike. Super Duper Weenie will donate a percentage of their food truck sales at the event to the cause.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation funds more childhood cancer research grants than any other entity except the U.S. government. Thousands of volunteers worldwide have funded more than $200 million in grants since its founding in 2004.
Osborn Hill joined in the effort in 2007, when Cub Scout Pack 199 held the school's first event, renaming it for Teddy in 2010.
The family appreciates St. Baldrick’s emphasis on pediatric cancer and finding ways to treat a child’s body, as well as the idea’s simplicity.
“Sign up, get donations, shave your head, and in the process raise not only money, but awareness for pediatric cancer,” Jessica Gerber said. “After the event is over, a St. Baldrick’s shavee is still spreading the message just by walking around with a bald head.”
Gerber said she believes her son lives on in his friends, teachers and neighbors who support the cause.
“I support St. Baldrick’s because they manage to take something so horrible — children suffering from cancer — and turn it into something good,” she said. “St. Baldrick’s events are positive life-affirming, community building celebrations.”