As the clippers started buzzing, the hair started falling Saturday at the annual St. Baldrick's event at Jeremiah Joe Coffee in Ottawa.
About 50 people were expected for the event that raises money for research into childhood cancer. The Ottawa version of St. Baldrick's was founded by Rita Chovan after her nephew died of a form of childhood cancer. Since 2005, the national organization has raised $325 million for childhood cancer research.
Jeff Miller, of Ottawa, was due to get his head shaved for the 10th time in 15 years. He and his wife Paula became active in the organization after their 6-year-old son Paul died in an accident and have been fundraising ever since.
"We do an annual fundraising events — a poker run, soccer run, we have a scholarship in his name at Serena High, all for St. Baldrick's," Jeff said.
Although Paul did not die specifically of cancer, the Millers find St. Baldrick's an organization near and dear to their heart.
"Anything to prevent a kid from being hurt," Jeff said. "That's what it's all about. We took everything from his funeral and gave it to St. Baldrick's."
As the crowd cheered with each shavee taking their seat, Jeff prepared to have his head and beard shaved. He has been growing his hair since Thanksgiving for the event, but usually walks around bald.
The first two boys to get their heads shaved were Colin, 14, and Cole, 9. The two so far have raised a combined $2,670 for the cause.
As of Saturday morning, Chovan said fundraisers had raised $18,000 toward the cause. The bottom line will be helped by some raffle baskets donated by Walmart and U.S. Silica.
"I'm just still amazed how this all is happening," Chovan said, motioning to the crowd Saturday. "There are hundreds of people out there to get their head shaved. This year we are honoring Korie, who is in Memphis being treated. Her family is with us today. That's what it's all about is the children and to bring a local touchstone. Seventy-two percent of money raised goes to childhood cancer and that's what's important and that's why we're here."