Sunday at Quaker Steak & Lube was about friendship, memories, and finding a cure for childhood cancers as several hundred came out in support of St. Baldrick’s Day and either had their head shaved or supported those who did.
Hundreds of people showed up Sunday afternoon to take part in this year’s St. Baldrick’s Day celebration at Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant. More than 100 of those had their heads shaved, while many enjoyed a sunny afternoon of camaraderie, supporting their favorite “shavee.”
A national fundraiser to raise money and awareness of childhood cancers, the local St. Baldrick’s event was held in honor of Abbey Foltz, who died 12 years ago at age 19. (Information has been corrected to fix an error. See correction at end of story. 1:30 p.m. March 19.)
She was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on her right tibia in 1996. Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the local event, started by her parents and aunt, Jeff and Nan Foltz and Sue Stevenson, respectively, with help from many friends, including Jaime Lenhart, who organized the event this year.
“I was great friends with Abbey and loved her so,” said Lenhart. “We grew up dancing together at Candy Apple’s Dance Center and attended GlenOak High School together. Abbey was a true friend, the kind of friend that you knew you’d always be friends with. She was smart, funny and so very kind. Just amazing. She was always the one who comforted others through her illness, always the one to make us smile.”
Lehnart said organizing the event is important to her because it is a chance to make the “awful thing that happened to my best friend, a little less awful.”
It is something her parents think of, too.
“We definitely think of Abbey as a blessing in our lives,” said Nan Foltz, saying that the money raised at events such as this goes to childhood cancer research, and helps educate others. “You never forget what happened, but through this event, we are savings lives, and we are helping other families.”
Agreeing with his wife, Jeff Foltz said, “Today’s turnout is wonderful. Every year it gets bigger and bigger. We really appreciate everybody who came out, whether they are getting shaved today or just here in support of others.”
TOUCHED SO MANY
Abbey touched so many lives, said Stevenson. “She was here for such a short time. I know that if she were here today, she would be involved in this event. My hope is that someday, we can find a cure for childhood cancer.”
Stevenson, a breast cancer survivor, was among the first to get their head shaved 10 years ago. “My sister asked if I would help her organize the event, and I agreed. I even told her I would shave my head! It was a lot less hair product and less time in the morning.
“Abbey's disease proved that anyone is at risk,” said Stevenson. Throughout her years of treatment and surgeries, Abbey continued to go to high school and to Ohio State University. She died at home Aug. 3, 2000.
Page 2 of 2 - “I think this is really cool,” said Abbey’s niece, Grace Foltz, 11, a fifth-grader at Glenwood Middle School. The daughter of Jeremy and Katie Foltz said, “I think we should all help children with cancer.”
REALITIES OF CANCER
Jennifer Rose-Ames attends the St. Baldrick’s event every year, she said, because she has friends who have lost their children to cancer. A month ago. she had a scare when her daughter, Alexis, got sick.
“She had an infection that continued to get worse, so we didn’t know what to think,” she said. “You just never know.”
So true, said Rick and Robin Turner of Munroe Falls, participating in the event for the first time.
“A friend, Ryan Vandergrift, told us about this event,” she said. “We work at Nationwide in Canton, but never heard of this fundraiser, so when he told us about it, we wanted to come and participate. Our daughter, Ava, 4, was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) in November, so for the past three months, we have learned a lot.”
She explained their older daughter, Megan, 9, has a blood disorder, so when Ava got sick, they figured it was a blood disorder too. “We never thought cancer.”
Neither did Todd and Krista Rohrer of Jackson Township when their son, Austin, got sick in the second grade. Now 15, he was diagnosed with ALL in 2004.
“This is pretty cool,” he said. His mom said he has been having his head shaved for the past four years, after finishing his chemotherapy treatments in 2008. Scott Morton, Austin’s second-grade teacher, has been getting his head shaved along with Austin since his former student started. Supporting her brother was Abby Rohrer, 5.
“Without even saying anything to us at the time,” she said, “he wrote on his Facebook page, ‘Today is the best day of my life. I got to shave it (referring to his hair) off.” He has looked forward to this event ever since.”
CORRECTION: Abbey Foltz was diagnosed with cancer when she was 14 and died nearly five years later in 2000. Her age was wrong when this story was first published on March 18.