Bald for Bux: CenturyLink workers are shorn’uf caring

A simple brainstorming session between CenturyLink Hood River’s Jaclyn Miller and Heather McClain has turned into a $3,370 fundraiser in support of coworker Tiffany Baumgarten.

Baumgarten, a White Salmon resident and 15-year employee of CenturyLink, is battling two types of breast cancer. And while office staff had previously held fundraisers to offset her medical costs and bills, Miller wanted to raise a more significant sum than “just a couple of hundred bucks here and there.”

As Miller and McClain talked, an idea emerged: Office staff would shave their heads when certain fundraising milestones were met. “Bald for Bux” was born.

Convincing co-workers wasn’t a problem. “Everybody just really likes Tiffany and we wanted to support her,” says Miller. Six women and three men agreed to participate, Miller among them.

Raising money wasn’t a problem, either, with the group making their first $1,000 benchmark only one week in.

“We set high goals, but apparently not high enough because we accomplished it so quickly,” says Miller.

At first, the effort was limited to office emails. Eventually, a “Bald for Bux” Facebook page was set up so friends and family could watch the fundraiser’s progress. A PayPal link made contributing easier for those out of town.

The donations kept pouring in, both monetary and otherwise. Infinite Graphix donated matching T-shirts to those who participated, as well as to Baumgarten, as the team’s captain.

Jolene Laney and Laurie Hicks were the first to shave their heads at the $1,000 mark. Laney donated her hair to Locks of Love.

At $1,500, they were joined by Martha Cardon and Jennifer Springer. Before the group had reached $2,000, Patrick Logan, Amy Davis and Chris Crown shaved their heads, and at the $2,000 mark, it was Miller’s turn. Rick Esaacson, who hadn’t shaved his mustache for 13 years, shaved his head, beard and mustache when the group hit $3,000.

Arizona resident Marjorie Kaneshige, the sister of a friend of Miller’s, is also battling cancer. Unable to donate money, she felt strongly enough about the cause to shave her own head, even though her hair had only recently grown back from a previous bout. She is the first non-CenturyLink employee to join.

Miller jokes that now she, her husband and their son all have the same haircut.

“As weird and as scary as it was when the clippers hit my head, it was the most liberating thing I’ve ever done.

“No one cried,” she adds. “It was for such a good cause that no one worried about being bald.”

For its next fundraising effort, the group at CenturyLink plans to hold a garage sale and car wash at the office sometime in May or June.

Baumgarten is overwhelmed by the support she’s received, likening her coworkers to family.

“I’m totally in awe of their generosity,” she says. “It’s hard to deal with, but they make it so much easier.

“I love them all. They make me feel special and it’s so nice that everyone has gone out of their way to do this for me.”

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