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Airdrie firefighters to combine relay with head shaving in fundraiser

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 11:03 am

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The Airdrie Professional Firefighters Association is hosting an unconventional fundraiser in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada on Dec. 1, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Genesis Place Field House.

It is similar to the typical relay race, the only difference is instead of passing a baton, participants will have their head shaved on the fly, said organizer and Airdrie firefighter Matt Elgie. The event will include 16 firefighters participating in the race in their bunker gear, the typical protective gear the public is used to seeing them in, as they have their hair sheared as quickly and safely as possible by volunteers from Snip Itz Hair Salon, while racing from one end of the field house to the other and then climbing an eight-foot wall.

If Im nervous about anything its what its going to feel like to have my hair come off that fast, Elgie said, adding hes got a thick head of brown hair that usually takes a while to shave off.

The event is in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, a cause Elgie said hits close to home for the firefighters because research suggests there is an increased risk of blood cancers among firefighters.

Part of the motivation is to raise a little bit of funding but also to raise awareness of cancers that do affect a lot of people, Elgie said.

Elgie said scientists are currently investigating why there is an apparent correlation between firefighters and increased rates of blood cancers, but research suggests there is evidence linking the increased rates to exposure to fire retardant material that releases noxious fumes when burning.

He said even with proper breathing apparatus, firefighters are still exposed to the fumes released from the fire retardant material.

Statistics from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society suggest this year, 5,800 Canadians will be diagnosed with leukemia, and 2,600 will die of the disease, and of the 8,900 Canadians who will be diagnosed with lymphoma this year, 2,700 will die from it.

It is a disease that effects many, many people, Elgie said.

The Dec. 1 event will include two heats with two teams competing each heat. Elgie suggests that supporters coming to cheer them on should arrive in the earlier half of the event to catch the head shaving action.

Though no fundraising goal amount has been set, donations will be accepted at the event or can be made ahead of time online at http://goo.gl/Qw6GWW


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