COLERAIN-On Saturday, March 17, a dinner and polka dance will be held at Shannon's Place in Colerain to benefit St. Baldrick's Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. The benefit was planned by Jeff Gazdik of St. Clairsville, with the help of Paula Armstrong of Shannon's Place.
The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and a buffet dinner will be served at 6 p.m. Ray Jay and the Carousels from PortVue, Penn., will entertain the crowd from 7-11 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, and $15 for children 16 and under. Included in the ticket price will be pop, beer and coffee for the entire evening. There will be raffles and a 50-50 drawing.
According to the St. Baldrick's Foundation's web site, each year 160,000 children worldwide are diagnosed with cancer. In the United States, childhood cancer kills more children than any other disease including AIDS, asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and congenital combined. The first St. Baldrick's event took place in New York City in 2000 when three Irish executives turned their annual St. Patrick's Day party into a fund-raiser, shaving their heads in solidarity with children with cancer.
St. Clairsville police officer Jeff Gazdik, with the help of Paula Armstrong of Shannon’s Place, has planned a St. Baldrick’s Foundation benefit dinner and polka dance for Saturday, March 17 at Shannon’s Place. Fund-raising comes naturally for Gazdik, who has also helped plan the Barton Firemen’s Festival, the Barton Polkafest, and many other polka dances.
Gazdik has often wanted to help children with cancer. While serving as a St. Clairsville police officer and Colerain Township trustee, he learned that many police officers help raise money for St. Baldrick's Foundation. He discussed his thoughts with his wife, Cara, and decided now was the time to "do it for the kids." He and his wife have two children, Alex and Andrew, and while both are healthy, he realizes that there are many other parents who can't say that.
Benefit planning is nothing new to Gazdik. Since joining the Barton Volunteer Fire Department almost 24 years ago, Gazdik has helped plan the Firemen's Festival, the "Barton Polkafest" - which marks its 18th year - and has chaired many polka dances. A few years ago, he teamed up with Denny Pubal and held a dance at the Fairpoint Polish Club to raise money for Relay for Life, an event that celebrates the lives of cancer survivors and remembers those who have lost their fight. That event raised $8,300.
Gazdik admits that he's met some of the valley's finest people at these events. "These people have hearts of gold. They always have supported me and my causes for having dances," Gazdik said. "They love their polka music! Without their continued support, these polka events would vanish."
For information or tickets for the St. Baldrick's Foundation event, call Gazdik at 740-695-1490. If you would like to send a donation or an item for the raffle, call him to make arrangements. For more information about St. Baldrick's Foundation, visit www.StBaldricks.org or call 888-899-BALD.