Officials create buzz with ‘bald’ initiative

If you notice a few more bald heads in town later this month that’s because Mayor Dave Berkman and several other local officials feel called … to go bald.

It’s not so much a fashion statement as it’s all for a worthy cause.

On March 16, Team Indialantic, which includes Berkman, Fire Department Capt. Todd Burnett, and Councilmen Simon Kemp and Randy Greer, will voluntarily lose their locks during St. Baldrick’s Space Coast Conquers at Melbourne Square Mall.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is national volunteer and donor-powered charity committed to funding promising research, finding cures for childhood cancers, and giving survivors long, healthy lives.

Over the last few weeks, the Indialantic team has been busy collecting pledges to shave their heads. So far, the team is in first place on the event leaderboard and Berkman is the top participant overall, already raising more than $5,000 himself.

“My true goal is first place at end of event, the charity is great, and I am excited to be part of it,” Berkman said.

In addition to serving as mayor, Berkman is a full-time engineer at Northrop Grumman on the E-2D program and said the majority of his donations have come from co-workers.

“I appreciate that I have support of the leadership at Northrop Grumman in Melbourne to raise awareness of this organization,” Berkman said.

This is the ninth annual year for the big shave in Brevard. The first took place in 2011 at Meg O’Malley’s in Melbourne and raised $75,000.

According to St. Baldrick’s Foundation Spokesperson Michele Franco, through 2018 St. Baldrick’s events across the country have raised $35.7 million and shaved more than 538,000 heads.

Since 2011, Brevard county events have raised over $1.9 million and shaved over 2,300 heads.

“This is truly amazing and a true testament to Brevard County’s commitment to finding an end to childhood cancer,” Franco said.

“Make a commitment to get involved and come out and shave in solidarity with all of the children throughout the world who have been unfortunately stricken with cancer.”

Berkman has never shaved his head before but said he’s not nervous.

Councilman Kemp once sported a shaved head back in high school, but said that was a long time ago.

“Yes, I am shaving my head too and need lots of donations to catch Dave,” Kemp said. “The reason I signed up is twofold; one is I have young children and can’t imagine how hard it must be to deal with a child having cancer. I want to do whatever I can to make sure families don’t have to suffer. Second, is Dave kind of dared me, the old ‘if you do it I’ll do it.’”

He admits his wife fully supports the charity but wasn’t too happy about the shaved head aspect.

“I have shaved my head in high school but that was a long time ago and she reminded me that she knew me then, and it did not look good,” Kemp said.

St. Baldrick’s Brevard Big Shave (Space Coast Conquers) will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on March 16 at Melbourne Square Mall. For more information, or to make a donation visit https://www.stbaldricks.org/events/mypage/5744/2019.

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