Sadie Madden would have fit right in atop a St. Patrick's Day parade float, with her outgoing personality and curly red locks. But right now she's focused on a St. Baldrick's event for which she'll have her head shaved at the end of a fundraising drive for children and young adults with cancer.
The event Thursday at Palmer Place in La Grange will include Sadie and others who are raising money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. They will shave their heads to show solidarity with patients who often lose their hair during chemotherapy treatments. Since 2005, St. Baldrick's has channeled more than $103 million from shaving events toward cancer research.
Sadie, 9, said a classmate told her about St. Baldrick's fundraising, and she was intrigued. Already, a woman who lives down the block collects dimes from neighbors to go toward breast cancer charities. Sadie's grandmother died of cancer when Sadie was 5.
"I could raise more money this way," said Sadie, of La Grange.
At first, Sadie's mom, Kasey, was reluctant to sign on, as she wasn't sure her daughter had really thought through how it might feel to be bald.
"I thought (the idea) would go away," Kasey Madden said.
"But it didn't," Sadie replied without hesitation. Her father, Marty, wasn't surprised.
"I was confident she would go through with it," he said. "That's just her."
"Giving money to cancer research completely matters more than having a pretty head of hair," Sadie said.
When the Maddens learned that several firefighters in La Grange were raising money for the same event, Sadie stopped by the fire department. They have since engaged in a friendly fundraising challenge.
"I'm completely creaming them," said Sadie, who has raised more than $7,500, mainly through Facebook and email networking.
"They (the firefighters) are our frenemies," joked Kasey Madden. "We really don't care who is going to win. Cancer research is very near and dear to our hearts."
Brian Cramer, a La Grange firefighter who said he hadn't cut his hair since December, said, "It's a fun event."
He and six other firefighters from the local union, who call themselves IAFF 2338's Baldest and Bravest, are getting their heads shaved, and they've raised more than $4,500. Cramer's 7-year-old son may join his dad in the barber's chair this year too.
Stylists from the nearby Floyd's 99 Barbershop will be volunteering their skills with scissors and razors. About 60 people are participating in the Palmer Place event, whether getting their heads shaved, doing the shaving or helping in other ways, said Floyd's stylist Kristina Cullen. One of the shop's stylists is getting her head shaved too.
The Palmer Place event is one of more than 25 scheduled in Illinois to date.