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saint baldrick's

Nathan Soper and Melissa Mayo hold hands as they get their hair cut during the St. Baldrick's event at Frontier Brewery Saturday.

Melissa Mayo clasped her friend Nathan Soper’s hand as barbers’ clippers buzzed along their heads Saturday outside Frontier Brewing Company and Taproom in Casper. She grinned at the crowd while her long, wavy hair fell to the ground during a St. Baldrick’s Foundation head-shaving event.

The crowd cheered and shouted encouragement. Her mother and 6-year-old daughter shed a few tears as they watched.

“It’s just hair,” Mayo quipped.

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The event was a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds childhood cancer research. Jerred Stoll decided to organize a local St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event after attending one in Las Vegas where his uncle has participated in the cause for several years.

The event exceeded its goal to raise $5,000 with money 17 head-shaving participants raised before the event as well as walk-in participants and donors, he said. Saturday’s event featured live music, a silent auction and head shavings.

“I thought this would be a great event for Casper,” Stoll told the crowd Saturday before his head shaving, “and a great charity to raise awareness for.”

Someone in the crowd told Mayo she looked good as the barber finished.

“Thank you. I don’t look like Uncle Fester?” she asked as they laughed.

She stepped off the stool to applause and cheers from the crowd.

Mayo had talked Soper into having his head shaved that day, he told the crowd. But he shed his hair and beard Saturday in honor of a friend’s son who was born with cerebral palsy and underwent treatment for leukemia multiple times as a child, he added.

Chris Sulzen participated in honor of a friend whose daughter is fighting cancer for the second time, he explained. The young girl was diagnosed a little over a year ago and ended up beating the disease with chemo but now is undergoing treatment again for a different kind of cancer, he told the crowd before a barber cut off his hair. He also had a cousin who died from cancer as baby.

“So it all hits pretty close to home and I felt like it was a good opportunity to help out.”

Sulzen told the crowd Saturday he’d give up his beard for another $75.

James Chesnut later would offer the red hair he’d been growing for seven years to the cause. When it’s not in a ponytail, it’s long enough that he sits on it, he said. He planned to donate it to an organization that makes wigs for children who lose their hair from illnesses. He knew somebody out there would want their natural hair color.

“You can’t get it in a bottle.”

Mayo decided to sign up when her friend Stoll asked if she had any friends who might be interested. She’d lost some hair because of health issues recently and a clump had fallen out the morning he called. She told him she’d do it. She’s lost family members to cancer and had a scare of her own a few years ago.

“And I have three kiddos, so it would be devastating to me if one of them had cancer.”

People had called her before Saturday’s event to ask her to reconsider, saying her hair was too pretty to shave, she said. Her daughter that morning told her she was sad for her hair. But Mayo was thinking about a pixie cut anyway when she found out about the opportunity to raise money for it to be shaved. Mayo raised more than $700.

“It’s worth it me. It’s a good cause.”

Mayo sat down after her head shaving to have her face painted while her daughter, Isla Martinson, watched and waited her turn.

“How does it look?” Mayo asked her.

Her daughter smiled and gave her mom a thumb’s up.

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Follow reporter Elysia Conner on Twitter @erconner

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Star-Tribune reporter Elysia Conner covers arts, culture and the Casper community.

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