Courtney Blasl, 25, of Riverhead reacts to the first pass of the razor. Photo: Denise Civiletti

A couple dozen people raised more than $12,000 to heighten awareness of and fund research in childhood cancer today at Long Ireland Beer Co. in Riverhead.

The first-time event at Long Ireland drew 24 “shavees” who raised money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit that funds childhood cancer research. Participants fundraised online through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website.

“This is our first annual event,” said Dan Burke of Long Ireland Beer Co. “I promise you — we’ll be doing this again next year,” he said. The enthusiasm for the event was incredible, he said.

The event raised more than double its goal, said volunteer organizer Sheila Malone.

“Shavees” made decisions to “rock the bald” for various reasons. Many recounted stories of how their own lives were touched by childhood cancer.

Debra Vedder of Wading River said she participated as a “shavee”] in memory of her cousin, Joey Frederico, who lost his life to cancer at age 4 in the 1960s. She was only 7, but the memory is still strong.

“I’ve been wanting to do this for a couple of years,” said Joe Cappellino of Islip Terrace, who’s a fan of Long Ireland Beer. “When I saw it was at the brewery, I said, ‘I’m in.’” Cappellino, one of the event’s top fundraisers — $1,515 in online donations — was shaving in honor of Kaelyn McCandless, the 10-year-old child of a high school classmate who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.

Joe Cuison, 25, of Port Jefferson Station came to watch his father-in-law get shaved — and decided to join in. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Joe Cuison, 25, of Port Jefferson Station attended the event as a spectator — his father-in-law John Salerno signed up as a “shavee” — but decided to to join in. He was reluctant.

“I love my hair. It essentially defines me,” Cuison said, running his fingers through his thick mane just before the barber got to work. 

“It will grow back. It will grow back,” he said laughing as the razor buzzed across his scalp.

Barbers Mike Prinz, Nick Sanpaolo and Andreas Alvarez of Rockabilly Barber Shop in Stony Brook did the honors. Rockabilly owner Vinny Ferrara coordinated. 

An impromptu “shave the beard” fundraiser at the brewery collected another $1,000. The group also organized a gift-basket raffle that brought in another thousand, Malone said.

Editor’s note: RiverheadLOCAL editor Denise Civiletti and designer Courtney Blasl volunteered as “shavee” fundraisers in this event. Both participated in memory of Bryan Tressler, a family friend lost to childhood cancer in 2007 at age 14. 

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Peter Blasl and Denise Civiletti 

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.