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03-13-03: Just clip it
St. Baldrick's event in Chickasaw nets money for charity

The Daily Standard

    CHICKASAW - Fourteen firefighters discovered that bald is beautiful as they shed their tresses Wednesday night to raise money for the National Childhood Cancer Foundation.
    The effort, known as St. Baldrick's Celebration, netted $1,900 as the steady hum of clippers produced a pile of blond, brown and black hair on the floor of the Chickasaw Community Mutual Fire Co.
    Local firefighter Dan Subler proposed the event six weeks ago after finding information on the Internet. Started three years ago by some New York City reinsurance executives, the observance offers a twist on traditional St. Patrick's Day activities by helping young children diagnosed with cancer. The national event has raised more than a million dollars in its relatively brief existence.
    "Cancer treatment often causes hair to fall out so the St. Baldrick founders decided to have their heads shaved in public in exchange for financial pledges from family and friends," Subler explained. "We're doing the very same thing here tonight."
    The improvised salon - three chairs set up behind rows of  shiny red fire trucks - drew firefighters from Chickasaw, Osgood, St. Henry, Burkettsville and Montezuma.
    Beauticians Sheri Pohlman and Kelly Rempe of Hair Affair in Celina and Sara Kelch of Total Image in Versailles donated their services for the event.
    Subler and fellow Chickasaw firefighters Mark Dahlinghaus and Kyle Huelsman were the first to take seats.
    "Cut it slow," chief Mark Seitz encouraged the smiling beauticians. "I mean R-E-A-L slow."
    Pohlman finished Subler's haircut first, then applied shaving cream and reached for a razor. From the back of a crowd of onlookers came the taunt, "Aah, he looks just like Dennis Rodman."
    St. Henry firefighter Mike Roll sensed the need for a little reassurance, laughingly reminding Subler there was an ambulance on standby.
    Becoming bald is not a new experience for Subler. The first time occurred back in 2000 when his daughter, Kristen, was diagnosed with rahabdomyosarcoma, a form of cancer involving connective tissue. He did not want her to face the reality of having no hair alone as treatment progressed.
    Huelsman, who initially shunned a mirror, rubbed his bald head appreciatively. "Dang that feels good," he told spectators.
    Fellow Chickasaw firefighter Todd Unrast settled into the chair with a look of uncertainty before asking "Wass up?" Rempe set to work leaving him with bangs and nothing else. Those, too, quickly bit the dust with a few swipes of the electric clippers.
    Roll, who discovered long ago that either his hair was shrinking or his head was growing, took a seat to have the sides buzzed.
    "I'm just getting a trim so these ladies can practice before someone with really long hair comes along," he said nonchalantly.
    A heckler pleaded with the beauticians to get out the Turtle Wax and give Roll a high-gloss shine. Another generously offered to get duct tape and reapply all the shorn locks on the floor to give him a full head of hair for the first time in quite awhile.
    Roll waited patiently as fellow St. Henry firefighter Jeff "Bacon" Garman settled into the chair. Once "the deed" was completed, they exchanged high fives and felt each other's bald heads.
    Montezuma firefighter John Klosterman, who showed up with two friends for moral support, was halfway through his haircut when a spectator wondered aloud, "This would be a hell of a time for a power failure."
    Julius Hierholzer, owner of Hierholzer Garage in Burketts-ville, is not a firefighter but that didn't prevent him from losing his hair for a good cause. Friends and relatives quickly chipped in cash when he fell short of his personal goal of $200 in pledges.
    Hierholzer, who is Kristen Subler's grandfather, let his daughter-in-law do the honors. Kelch thoroughly enjoyed wielding the clippers.
    "I brought along some new hair," he said following the shearing. He unceremoniously plopped a wig on his bald head, posed for pictures and then discarded it in favor of a hat.
    Don Droesch, assistant chief of the Chickasaw department and owner of Droesch Farm Service in nearby St. Rose, volunteered to take part, but was dismayed to discover the date coincided with a scheduled open house at his business.
    His haircut became the impromptu entertainment at the business promotion, with Pohlman doing the honors. Customers and friends enjoyed ham sandwiches and chili soup as his hair dropped to the floor.
    "I offered to have this done for $50 in donations," Droesch said later. "I should have held out for more - a whole lot more. I was far too cheap."
    Chickasaw firefighters, while delighted at the amount of money raised, did express some remorse. A woman in attendance at their recent fireman's dance volunteered to have her head shaved. However, she never showed up at the firehouse. They figure she either came to her senses the morning after the dance, or her employer didn't relish the prospect of a bald woman in the front office.


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