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PHOTOS: Whistler Balding for Dollars sets new fundraising record

A dozen people shaved their heads and raised about $25,000 for the BC Children's Hospital Foundation this weekend

A jubilant atmosphere took over the Garibaldi Lift Co. once again on April 2, as tourists and Whistlerites came together to fundraise, listen to music by The Hairfarmers and watch as a dozen people shaved off all their hair to raise money for the BC Children’s Hospital's oncology wards. 

Organized by local non-profit, Whistler Friends (Community Health and Welfare Society), the annual Balding for Dollars event raised approximately $25,000 this year—a new one-year record—bringing the total donated over the 21 years of its existence to $432,701. 

The donated funds help pay for a range of expenses families encounter when they come from afar to receive cancer treatment at the BC Children's Hospital, as well as more minor expenses, such as video games for the isolation wards, one of the small ways the medical centre helps kids be kids, according to Whistler Friends co-founder and long-time event organizer, Dave Clark. 

“I think it’s a great opportunity for people to do something for people that they will never meet. I think that’s what philanthropy is all about. We do things, not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of people that we will probably never meet,” he said. 

“Over 150 kids in this province are diagnosed with childhood cancer each year, and we will never meet them, but [if] we band together and do things together, we can be so powerful [in supporting] those families and those kids.” 

Barbers from Function Junction's Blackcomb Barber Shoppe returned with their clippers for the event, which has become a tradition for the shop and owner Amanda Stocks, who has personally seen cancer affect a significant number of close family members and friends. 

“Everybody’s got the friggin’ c-bomb lately—cancer everywhere—and we’re all touched by it. We can all relate. I lost my father, uncle, stepdad, and friends. It just seemed like the right thing to do, to give back,” Stocks said.  

The participants included people of all ages, from kids as young as 11 to older folks, and even Whistler’s second favourite citizen, Stinky's on the Stroll owner Jeremy ‘Stinky’ Peterson, who had his luscious locks shaved off in memory of his friend Al Paul, raising roughly $3,500 in the process. 

“My friend Al Paul passed away a couple of years ago, and [I] was just doing something for a good cause, for charity, and the BC Children’s Hospital. I just wanted to do something fun, and it’s nice to help raise money for our kids,” Peterson said. 

Whistler Friends dedicated this year’s event to Paul, an avid Balding for Dollars fundraiser who lost his battle with cancer in 2021. 

Another longhair donor was local Whistler tow truck driver Rafael Hambalek. At the beginning of pandemic restrictions in early 2020, Hambalek decided to start growing out his hair. Nearly three years later, he donated it all, raising about $4,400 for the cause. 

“I wanted to cut my hair, but I was so good-looking that I let it go somewhere. Looking at the kids, [and] going, 'Well, [let’s] give it to the kids that need it,” Hambalek said—noting that he won't try and grow his hair out like this again anytime soon due to it being "a pain in the ass." 

“For what the kids got to deal with, and what I had to deal with, it is nothing compared to what they’re going through. So, suck it up, buttercup; help out as much as you can," he added. 

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