On the verge of using her phone to make an appointment with her hairdresser, Christina Savoia took an immediate interest in an email about this year’s Toronto Police Cops for Cancer fundraiser at Yorkdale Mall.
The Records Management Services Charge Processor instantly made the decision she wasn’t going to need a stylist for a few months.
Savoia cut all of it off at the 22nd annual Cops for Cancer event on April 21 and donated the hair, along with over $3,100 that she raised, to the Canadian Cancer Society.
“Shaving my head was easy because I did it voluntarily,” she said. “People with cancer don’t have choices like I have.”
This was the first time Savoia took part in the event.
“I have a sister with lung cancer, my cousin died of brain cancer last year, and my dad succumbed to prostate cancer,” she said. “I have friends with cancer. This disease touches everyone and the least I could do is make a donation.”
Staff Sergeant Keith Smith, of 32 Division, was also a first-time donor.
“I have donated money in the past, but this is the first time I am donating my locks,” he said, with a chuckle. “My dad had prostate cancer, but he didn’t die of the disease. However, I know people who have been affected by it and this is a great cause.”
Constable Sean McClorey, of 54 Division, was diagnosed with colon cancer this year.
He has undergone two surgeries and started chemo treatment last week.
“I have 11 more rounds of chemo treatment to do and possibly another surgery,” he said. “I am not out of the woods as yet.”
In his 32nd year with the Service, McClorey was a court officer for many years before becoming a uniformed officer in 2002.
“That first year in uniform, I shaved my head for Cops for Cancer because I wanted to impress my new colleagues,” he said.
Last Saturday, his future son-in-law, Eric Levely, of the Ontario Provincial Police, was counting on making an impression on McClorey by cutting off his hair.
“My grandmother died from breast cancer in 2006,” said Levely, who has been on the job for six months. “Cancer touches everyone. I know my colleagues will tease me when I get back to work on Monday, but I am prepared for it. This baby-faced man is going to look even younger.”
Andrew Stewart, of Parking Enforcement, was the top fundraiser this year with $17,310.
He contacted almost 700 Chief Executive Officers and many Service members.
“The generosity displayed by everyone I called was overwhelming and I want to thank everyone for their support for this worthy cause,” said Stewart, who raised $10,710 in 2017. “I am about giving back and I will continue to raise money for cancer as long as I have life in my body.”
He lost his uncle, Peter Stewart, to cancer earlier this month.
“We were very close and I am shaving my head for him,” said Stewart, whose mother is a cancer survivor.
For the past eight years, organizers of the annual Cathy Fontana Memorial hockey tournament have been donating the funds they raise to Cops for Cancer. The much-loved 32 Division ‘A’ platoon member succumbed to cancer in 2010.
This year, they raised about $3,700, the highest so far.
Constable Chris Devereux, of 32 Division, presented the cheque to Jillian Sheffield, the Canadian Cancer Society senior coordinator of independent fundraising events.
“In the beginning, we played a hockey game at the Division for bragging rights,” he said. “But, when Cathy died, we decided to dedicate the game in her honour.”
They have raised nearly $30,000 for Cops for Cancer in the last eight years.
Devereux’s son, Bradley, and his Grade Five schoolmate, Finnley Clinton, put together a team – The Little Rascals – that raised $1,695.
Since 2010, Inspector Chris Boddy has used social media to promote the Cops for Cancer fundraiser.
“This is a very special day for the Toronto Police Service and the community,” he said. “We all know that everyone has been touched by cancer. I have lost family members to this terrible disease. Most recently, my father, a retired Toronto firefighter, was diagnosed with lung cancer. He got checked out and it looks like he’s going to be OK.”
Boddy has been shaving his head for the last 11 years.
“Every year, there is less to shave, but I will continue to do it until there is no more to cut off,” he said.
The Toronto Police Association made a $2,000 donation this year to the initiative.
City Councillor Norm Kelly attended the event and praised Toronto Police for their support over the years.
This year’s TPS Cops for Cancer initiative raised just over $54,000.
Started in Edmonton in 1994, Cops for Cancer is a national program raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society to fund research and support patients.
Service members have raised almost $1.5 million since the program started.