Brian McGrath of Batavia loved St. Patrick’s Day, a good baseball game and spending time with family and friends. Brian was just 36, married with a young daughter, when he lost his battle with melanoma in 2005. Before he died, Brian asked his wife, Kathleen, to do something charitable for the cause of cancer awareness. So she organized a fundraiser, both to honor her husband’s memory and to help others dealing with the disease.
This St. Patrick’s Day, Sunday, March 17, will mark the third Cancer Community Awareness Benefit at Batavia’s Katrina Salon & Spa, in memory of McGrath. Members of the community are invited to take part, by donating hair or cash at the salon.
To get involved in this year’s event, anyone interested in donating hair can make an appointment at the salon. Haircuts are free for those making a donation.
“We will give to various organizations, most of which request healthy hair at least 8-10 inches in length,” said McGrath.
The hair collected is used to make special wigs and hair pieces for those dealing with cancer. If time slots remain, regular haircuts will be done for a $40 donation.
“Brian was a longtime client of mine and I saw personally the devastating toll cancer took on the McGrath family," said salon owner Katrina Roitburd. "We are honored to be part of Brian’s fundraiser by doing what we love to do.”
Other activities include skin checks by appointment, and green hair extensions to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The fundraiser also will feature a raffle with lots of running gear and other great prizes, food, hot drinks and information from LivingWell and Fox Valley Hospice.
“Asking others to give their hair with me seemed like a good way to involve our Batavia community as a tribute to cancer patients who may not want to give up their hair, or their identity,” McGrath said.
She recalled how Brian didn’t want to be treated differently after his face got puffy and he started losing his hair following the cancer treatment.
“Katrina helped him cope with his hair falling out by making him feel comfortable here,” said McGrath.
All the money raised will go to Jack’s Fund, named in honor of Jack H. Marston II, who also died of melanoma. Previous events have netted more than 60 hair donations and around $4,000 in monetary donations.
“For those of us who knew him, we should feel blessed knowing that we were all part of the reason he went through so much and why he wanted to live so badly,” said Kathleen. “For those who didn’t, hopefully all we do in his memory will improve the treatment for those living with melanoma.”
For more information, call Katrina Salon & Spa at 630-482-2772.