September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Eldred resident Lou Monteleone wants to make sure Sullivan County knows it. Monteleone’s awareness began in 2007 when he participated in a St. Baldrick’s (www.stbaldricks.org ) signature head shaving event in Jeffersonville. “It changed my life,” Monteleone said, “and I became instantly involved.”
Since then, Monteleone has been so active with the foundation that he spends months organizing, soliciting funds and planning local events connected to the foundation and childhood cancer awareness.
“Everyone knows someone connected to this epidemic,” Monteleone said, “and it seems like it’s followed me since my first shaving.”
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a “volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives” as stated by the website, and Monteleone has brought that awareness to the Upper Delaware River Valley and beyond through his tireless efforts. “More dollars are spent on adult cancer research than childhood cancers,” he said, “and one of the many wonderful things about the organization is that is entirely volunteer based, with only 2% of the funds raised going to administration and staff.”
Presently, there are more than 30 states involved, with events of all sorts slated to occur across the country on September 9, including Monteleone’s “Human line of Hope” (www.facebook.com/humanlineofhope ) the “Conga Against Cancer” and the public head shaving. The reason behind volunteers lining up to have their heads shaved is simple: “Because kids with cancer often lose their hair during treatment, ‘shavees’ for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation show their support by shaving their heads voluntarily and inspiring friends and family to donate money to support childhood cancer research.”
“Before the head shaving, the line of hope is comprised of local participants who want to be involved, but not necessarily be bald before the day is out,” Monteleone said. “These folks are encouraged to participate in any way that they are comfortable with. Everyone in the line wears letters on their chests with names of loved ones, or spelling out words like hope, strength, conquer and believe.”
Route 55 has been renamed for the special day as “the road to care” and folks will gather, starting at 10 a.m. for an entire day of special events leading up to the shave. Vendors and sponsors will also be on hand and the mood promises to be one of hope and promise for a brighter future, rather than somber and morose. “We have some special guests on board,” Monteleone promises “and there will be good food, good friends and an opportunity for residents and visitors alike to participate in something that will change your life” he assures. “The line of hope was born here in Sullivan County, but now stretches across our nation.”
To date, Monteleone’s local efforts have raised over $17,000. The event will be held at the Corner Grill, 577 Rt. 55 in Eldred, NY on Sunday, September 9. To make a donation or become a “shavee,” visit the website, call 888/899-BALD, or for more information contact Monteleone directly at 845/557-3321.