September 21, 2020

IMG_8324BY HAILEY MERKT

“I’ve been going blue for seven years now … People at the office call me Papa Smurf,” said longtime Make-A-Wish supporter Kevin Lindsay.

“I just want to see the fun of people getting their head shaved … It’s going to be a good time,” said Robert Free, a Conestoga College alumnus and Go Blue! Go Bald! fundraiser.

Make-A-Wish Southwestern Ontario held their annual Go Blue! Go Bald! event on March 1 at Edelweiss Tavern in Kitchener.

This colourful charity event began eight years ago in London, Ont. It quickly took off and expanded into Windsor and Kitchener the following year.

Go Blue! Go Bald! is a family fun event where people go blue, bald or both to raise awareness and show their support for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Prior to the event participants raise money to help grant 110 wishes made by children with life-threatening medical conditions in southwestern Ontario.

“All funds raised in southwestern Ontario stay in this area to grant the wishes of local children,” said Erin Latam, Make-A-Wish manager of special events.

The charitable affair was hosted by Sarge from KFUN 99.5 FM and included a silent auction, head shaves and hair dying. Sarge raised $300 by promising to shave his eyebrows, beard and head on-air.

Go Blue! Go Bald! was previously held at the Region of Waterloo International Airport.

“This was the first year the event was held at the Edelweiss Tavern and we absolutely loved the new venue,” Latam said.

Last year Go Blue! Go Bald! helped grant six-year-old Alex Fischer’s wish, which took him and his family of eight on a magical Disney World vacation. Alex and his four-year-old sister Delia both have cystic fibrosis.

“Delia is in the process of having a wish granted, but has yet to decide on what she will be wishing for,” Latam said.

The average cost of a wish is $8,000. This cost includes the parents and siblings in the wish experience.

Gary Fischer spoke about the positive difference fulfilling a wish makes in a child’s life.

“For a moment, it made us forget about everything … about the 20 pills Alex and Delia swallow every day — that’s on a good day — and the hours of therapy they go through each and every day,” Fischer said.

“Lots of participants go blue, year-round, in support of our courageous wish kids,” Latam said.

“We encourage everyone to get involved when it works best for them, anytime throughout the year. There are many ways they can get involved without dyeing (your) hair blue (or) shaving it off.”

Some ideas suggested on the Go Blue! Go Bald! website are to have a blue bake sale, blue jeans day or sell blue paper stars in support of Make-A-Wish.

“We just want everyone to be creative, have fun and go blue to help make more wishes come true across southwestern Ontario,” Latam said.

Approximately $20,000 was raised at the Kitchener event this year.

“We are thrilled with everyone’s amazing support of Make-A-Wish,” Latam said.

To learn more about organizing your own Go Blue! Go Bald! fundraiser, contact Erin Latam at erin.latam@makeawish.ca.

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