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Just Irish Enough kids take it to The Max for St. Baldrick's

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Kids helping kids, girls and boys alike, men, women and children have collected sponsors and had their heads shaved in the name of children’s cancer research this March.

Barbers, shavees, community volunteers, and revelers gathered at The Max (McCook Athletic and Exposition) indoor sports facility in McCook for head shavings en masse Friday, March 9, raising nearly $95,000 for St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The “Just Irish Enough” head shaving event preceded its 2012 version of the “Just Irish Enough” parade and block party, held Saturday, March 10 in La Grange Park.

What began as a "small" neighborhood gathering with t-shirts and corned beef sandwiches has expanded its festivities over the past five years even further to include teams from Forest Road and Ogden schools in La Grange Park. It has become so large, the entourage plus 258 official participants registering to have their heads shaved, that this year the party moved to the new venue.

Children from both schools formed teams in the name of students suffering from cancer. Teachers Josh Thomas, Tara Markby, and Melissa Sawisch jumped on the bandwagon. Efforts have been largely driven by the kids, said Jim McCarthy, event organizer. Ogden’s “Do it for Dominic” raised more than $34,000 and “The Forest Roaders” raised more than $37,500. The organizers worked with Mattone Restaurant to provide food perks. In total, this year’s event raised more than $106,000.

Jim and Megan McCarthy and a group of friends started the “Just Irish Enough” parade and block party, based at their La Grange Park home in 2008. They wanted to replicate the old family-oriented South Side neighborhood St. Patty’s Day parades and they ended up adding a charitable twist.

Over the past five years, the annual event has raised more than $250,000.

McCarthy said they will never raise the “Just Irish Enough” fundraising goal over $5000, to maintain its focus on the celebration of friends and family in La Grange Park. He said he is also thrilled that the “Just Irish Parade” concept has moved to another state, as a woman moving from La Grange Park to Iowa asked him if she could use his logos, ideas and activities to start her own event.

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