Quincy News

Volunteers gamely get their heads shaved to benefit cancer victims

Buzzee Laurie Abrams squeezes her eyes shut as her sister, Pam, buzzes off the first strip hair at QMG's Buzz Off Cancer event at the One: Special Venue Event on Saturday, Jun. 22, 2019. Abrams raised money and cut off her hair to show support for her sister who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Pam said that it was very emotional buzzing off her sister's hair. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
Katelyn Metzger 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 23, 2019 12:01 am

QUINCY -- Eighteen brave souls stepped forward Saturday night and told cancer to "Buzz Off!"

The hardy volunteers had signed up to have their heads shaved as part of the second annual Buzz Off Cancer fundraising event sponsored by Quincy Medical Group.

The 18 "buzzees" also tried to raise at least $500 each to help provide financial support to local cancer patients who, at times, struggle to make ends meet while undergoing treatment for their disease.

Last year, the inaugural Buzz Off Cancer event generated $30,000 in donations. So the goal this year was to beat that amount, and the early results looked promising.

"The event just started, and we're already at over $27,000. So I think it's pretty safe to say we're going to break last year's $30,000," said Racheal Raleigh, who founded the event last year with her co-worker, Jen Roberts.

Raleigh and Roberts both work in marketing for QMG. While putting together a commercial about the cancer center, "we were both really touched when we were interviewing some cancer patients about just how hard financially fighting cancer is," Roberts said. "We wanted to do something to alleviate that stress and to help them focus on their care."

So they came up with Buzz Off Cancer,which raises money for cancer patients -- some of whom have had to choose between getting a cancer treatment or paying a mortgage or utility bill.

"All the money that we raise goes directly to help cancer patients so that they can pay their mortgage and afford potentially life-saving treatment," Raleigh said.

Last year, Raleigh and Roberts both had their heads shaved and collected money for the Buzz Off Cancer cause.

One person who watched the two get their heads shaved was Taylor Bricker, who has been close friends with Raleigh since high school.

"Racheal was the maid of honor at my wedding," Bricker said. "Last year, the minute she stepped off that podium (with a shaved head), I said, ‘Put me down. I'm doing it next year.' "

True to her word, Bricker was one of the 18 volunteer buzzees who came forward at Saturday's fund-raiser, held at the ONE Special Event Venue.

Bricker's hair was long enough that she decided to donate her locks to a Michigan-based charity, "Children with Hair Loss," which makes wigs for kids.

Bricker, who also raised about $800, said she was excited to take part as a way to show her support for cancer victims.

"I was extremely inspired by being here last year," she said.

Also gamely stepping forward to have their heads shaved Saturday were three local leaders from the emergency services field -- Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley, Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning and Adams County Sheriff Brian VonderHaar.

VonderHaar, who admitted he didn't have much hair to cut off, said he was glad to have an opportunity to help a good cause.

"It's so easy to say yes to something like this," he said. "It takes very little time out of our life. And if we can help raise some funds for the less fortunate, then we're all for it."

Copley said he, too, was happy to raise money to help cancer victims facing financial trouble.

"There are too many friends and family affected by cancer, and there's so much that the insurance does not take care of," he said.

Henning single-handedly raised more than $3,000 to benefit Buzz Off Cancer.

"My mom is battling cancer and has been driving back and forth to St. Louis for about three years, so I know how those extra costs add up," he said. "It sounded like a great cause to help out people who maybe don't have the resources to help themselves."

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