EFFINGHAM — Several community members had their heads shaved for a good cause Sunday — a 16-year-old girl battling cancer who all the while is raising awareness of the disease.
The Orchard Inn in Effingham was standing room only as people turned out to bid for the opportunity to shave the heads of those volunteering to go bald.
The bids raised $6,495 for Elizabeth Weidner, who has been battling cancer for the past four years and recently started treatments at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
Stacey Greuel organized the Bold, Beautiful and Bald event.
Greuel said she got to know Elizabeth when she became an ambassador for Effingham County Relay for Life. Greuel decided to organize Sunday’s benefit for Elizabeth and her family to help pay for medical expenses.
“This is a different type of fundraiser,” Greuel said. “We have volunteers offering to shave their head and the highest bidder will be able to shave them.”
Volunteers shaving off their hair included Shane Niemerg, Cory Dassenbrock, Tristan Myers, Wanda Olson, Dawn Cameron, Missy Koester, Keith Thoele and Tracey Greuel. Josh Tabbert of Stewardson volunteered to be shaved after all of the other volunteers were auctioned off.
Greuel said if the highest bidder didn’t want to do the shaving, a professional salon donated services to help.
Cameron of Effingham said volunteering to have her head shaved was something she felt she had to do after meeting Elizabeth last year.
“I met Elizabeth and her family at the community Thanksgiving dinner, where they were volunteering,” Cameron said. “I was working on the line when they were coming through.
“Elizabeth’s grace and presence really struck a cord with me,” she said. “I had heard her story and when I found out about this, I was just like, ‘OK!’”
Cameron received the highest bid of $2,410 to have her head shaved.
Niemerg, of Teutopolis, works with Elizabeth’s father, Matthew Weidner, at the Illinois Department of Transportation. He got involved after a volleyball game at the Workman Sports and Wellness Complex.
“Tracey (Greuel) talked to me about the event,” Niemerg said. “I didn’t hesitate. I said yes right away.”
“It isn’t going to hurt me to loose my hair,” he added. “It’s for a good cause.”
Myers, of Teutopolis, also works at IDOT. He recently moved to the area from Springfield.
“I’ve been following Elizabeth’s story for a little while. I met Matt my first couple of days on the job,” Myers said. “I just felt like I had to do something to help.”
Myers said he was in the military, where he experienced a sense of family and community.
“When I started working at IDOT, they pulled me in as a member of their family,” Myers said. “So that is what family does. They do anything they can to help each other out.”
IDOT workers donated an extra $1,500 for Sunday’s event, which raised more than $14,000.
Elizabeth Weidner has been an advocate for pediatric cancer.
Weidner founded a fundraising team named Crowns Fight Cancer that merged with #GoldTogether to fund raise for pediatric cancer. The organization was eighth last year in raising money in the United States and this year it reached No. 1 raising $14,632 in 2020.
Last September Weidner traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend CureFest 2019 advocating for pediatric cancer. She performed a dance during CureFest activities.
“So there is a lot she’s trying to do and not just locally to get the funding for pediatric cancer,” Greuel said.