Everything, it seems, has been shut down in an attempt to curtail the spread of COVID-19. So it seemed like a really bad time to hold a fundraiser for cancer this past Sunday. 

But things have a way of working out. While no one could have predicted what is now transpiring with the virus’ spread and the near-panic that has been gripping the world, in the end, everything worked out well and the small-town fundraiser was more successful than we could have hoped, or even planned for. 

Flashback to about a month ago. I live in a small bucolic town in central Massachusetts and was attending our bi-monthly Board of Selectmen meeting. They were discussing the tentative plans for a new police and fire station. And they called on the Chief of Police Don Desorcy to update them on the planning process. 

I’ve known Chief Desorcy for a number of years. In fact, I used to be next-door neighbors with his mother-in-law. We grew close and through her, I got to know the chief himself. I had covered local news for the small newspaper in town and always had very positive interactions with Desorcy. He’s everything you want in a police chief and a dedicated public servant. He has not only grown up in the town but has been a member of the department for over 30 years. He was planning on retiring in January of 2021. 

But on the night of the meeting, I was shocked by his appearance. He’d always kept his hair short, in the police mode, but now it was nearly gone and only small patches were left. He seemed pale and had lost about 15-20 pounds. As I had learned recently, despite never smoking a day in his life, he had developed lung cancer. The doctors had him going through chemotherapy.

I had called him once I found out, but he downplayed the seriousness of his condition stating that he was going to go through chemo but he should be fine… exactly what you’d expect him to say. His wife had been taking him to the doctor’s appointments. At first, they were trying to keep things fairly private, but once he broke it to the members of the town’s administration, there was no reason to keep it under wraps any longer. 

So, on that particular night, I had an epiphany. Believe it or not, I do sometimes have them — although many of our readers will beg to differ. So, after the Board of Selectmen meeting was over I shared my idea to several Board members: “Why doesn’t the Town have a Buzzoff Fundraiser for Cancer? People could come in, shave their heads or just get a buzz cut and all of the money raised will be given to the American Cancer Society in the Chief’s name.” One of the Board members, Kevin Krassopoulos the Director of Local Public Television, was immediately on-board and he and his wife Jen, who is a hairstylist at one of the nice salons in the area, took over. 

Matt, doing his magic and cutting a design into a young patron’s hair cut.

Jen has been a seasoned pro at holding fundraisers. She and Kevin did a tremendous amount of work, spreading the word, getting people to donate some very nice raffle prizes, assembling an array of volunteers to help set everything up, man the booths for the raffles,  and sell tickets at the event — and of course, securing the salon for the day and marshaling a big crew of hairstylists.