A worthy cause took centre stage Saturday afternoon under the big tent at the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship as more than $23,000 was raised in support of cancer research during the district’s first “Cops for Cancer” fundraiser.
The “shave-off” saw some 30 participants brave the clippers in front of the huge crowd on hand.
Most of the participants were police officers from the Fort Frances and Emo OPP detachments and area First Nations, with bass tournament officials, media personalities, community policing committee members, and district citizens contributing their locks to the cause.
OPP S/Sgt. Hugh Dennis found the experience of having his head shaved one of the most impacting of his life. In fact, while in the midst of going bald, his mouth was so dry he said he could hardly speak.
“Obviously, getting your hair shaved off in front of 1,000 people is quite an experience in itself but it was also a very moving experience for me,” he remarked Tuesday.
“I have a better understanding of what someone has to go through who is undergoing cancer treatment,” he noted, adding his son’s participation made it even more meaningful.
Tyson Dennis, 12, was in the barber’s chair twice that afternoon, first choosing to get a short haircut and then deciding to go back for the full treatment later on.
“He hadn’t planned to get his head shaved. He was only going to get a buzz [cut],” S/Sgt. Dennis said. “But then he got involved in the event and decided to ‘go for the wood’ as he put it.
“I’m so proud of him,” he added.
Actually, John McTaggart, chairman of the bass committee, raised the most money ($3,000), followed by Cst. Dave Lee ($2,700), Cst. Joanne Schultz ($2,300), Larry Armstrong ($2,000), and Cst. Caroline Spencer ($1,700).
Even anglers Steven Luhman and Glen Getschel of Wisconsin (Team #128) chipped in, donating their $1,000 prize for bringing in the biggest bass Friday to the cause.
“I think it was an overwhelming success, especially for a first-time experience with this particular fundraiser,” said Janet Algie, fundraiser co-chair for the local chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society.
Algie also made mention of the whole-hearted participation of sponsors of the event, noting donations came in from all over.
“That’s the benefit of having OPP on the roads across the district. They have communications with a lot of people [and] that certainly worked in our favour,” she added.
Jim Jackson of Sight and Sound here was nominated to be a participant in the “shave-off” after the event began. He said he was all for the balding experience, especially since losing a family member to cancer.
Jackson subsequently matched his own pledge of $250 to see friend Dean Quinn lose his hair.
“I had no idea I was [in] until people started staring at me and saying ‘Don’t go anywhere’,” Jackson said. “I lost a sister to cancer so I didn’t mind being a participant, and I got to take my good friend, Dean, with me.”
“It cost me for his head, or hair in this case, but that’s okay,” he added.