For Collingswood firefighter Kevin Ehret, the seventh annual is more than just one of the best parties of the year. It's an annual reminder of the fraternal bonds shared by anyone who's ever donned a hard hat and fireproof coat.
One of the dearest to Ehret’s heart was his friend and fellow firefighter, Andy Staszewski. Cancer took Andy when he was only 23.
The year he was diagnosed, his brothers at the fire station surprised him one night by shaving their heads in a show of solidarity.
“We knew what he was going through, and we didn’t want him to go through that alone,” said Ehret. “He was never a real emotional guy, but you could tell he was overwhelmed.”
Maybe it was because Andy was hired right out of high school and had planned to make a career out of firefighting. Maybe it was because he got such a raw deal at such a young age. Whatever the reason, his brothers-in-arms were inspired to keep fighting for Andy long after his body lost the battle.
When Ehret’s father died from cancer that same year, the firehouse shared his pain. For a man whose family traces its lineage through public service careers, it was a powerful source of strength.
“There’s no other people like the guys in the fire service,” Ehret said. “If something happens to one of us, everybody’s involved.”
Every year that family gets a little bit bigger for one festive afternoon. The Collingswood community pays tribute to its Andys at $10 a head, driving towards a $100,000 annual goal. Every cent is donated to the St. Baldrick's Foundation of Moravia, CA, which funds research for childhood cancers.
From 11 AM to 4 PM Sunday, March 18, at the , guests can enjoy one-dollar "adult-style" drinks, live music, food and the signature head shavings of the afternoon. Children 11 and younger are admitted free.
Come for the camaraderie and a chance to win one of several high-end door prizes, including a big-screen TV, Samsung Galaxy tablet, gift baskets and more.