Even though it took several months before Oakland police Sgt. Rick Andreotti had a full set of hair after fighting off cancer several years ago, he still was willing to shave it all off again Friday. And so were at least 60 other Oakland police who went bald for a good cause: raising money for young cancer patients.
"Cancer is hard for anyone. But it's twice as bad for a child to go through it," Andreotti said Friday, shortly before the Children's Hospital Oakland St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraiser began. The proceeds will benefit the hospital's Hematology/Oncology Department.
"Research has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go," Andreotti said. "Until we have a cure, we have to keep trying. And that takes money."
The police were joined by the Oakland Fire Department and firefighters from around the Bay Area, as well members of the Coast Guard, Oakland Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, PGA golfer James Hahn and numerous Children's Hospital doctors.
The Oakland Police Department, by far the largest contingent of the law enforcement groups to lend its support, had raised at least $13,000 by Friday afternoon.
"Anything that affects the community affects us because were are one together," Officer Jason Scott said. "We're happy to do it."
Some even brought their children. Chris Henry, 9-year-old son of Officer James Henry, and Devon Cardoza, 6-year-old son of Officer Michael Cardoza, waited their turn to go under the shears. "I was bald when I was born," Chris said.
Although the gesture was symbolic, shaving the head for young and old was a sign of solidarity with children who had lost their hair during chemotherapy treatments and reflected the significance of hair to many people — especially for a 15-year-old like Angela Rogers, who presided over the festivities as a judge.
"It really tore her up inside, losing her hair," said her father, Albert Rogers.
"If it raises one more dollar for cancer research, it's worth it," said Amy Chan, a prospective nursing student whose hair would go to a charity, Locks of Love.
Ana Martinez, an Oakland Neighborhood Service Coordinator in the Fruitvale district, decided to give up her locks for the St. Baldrick's charity in part because a family friend's 3-year-old daughter, Ruby Grandy, is a Children's Hospital cancer patient.
Ruby is one of an estimated 160,000 children worldwide diagnosed with cancer each year, according to Children's Hospital.
"It's hard to find anyone not affected by cancer," Andreotti said.
For more information about St. Baldrick's Day or to donate to the foundation, visit www.stbaldricks.org or call 888-899-2253.