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September 16, 2011

Raising money to battle pediatric cancer is not a hairy situation for the football team

KINGS POINT, N.Y. – The football team had a close shave on Friday afternoon, and the Mariners didn't even play a game.

 

Some 60 members of the team ventured down to the U.S. Merchant Marine barbershop to get their heads shaved to raise money for Mikey Lograno-Weinstein, a five-year-old from Rockaway Beach, N.Y. who has pediatric brain cancer.

 

"We adopted Mikey onto the team a couple of years ago," said senior defensive back Jake Harrison (Weymouth, Mass.). "He's really become part of the family. He comes to as many games as he can get to. He inspires us with everything he does.

 

"He is a young kid and he is fighting every day and you see him run around and he manages to smile more than anyone here. It's really an inspiration. . . . It's awesome that the majority of the guys come down here and give up part of their day, shaved their head."

 

The son of Chrissie and Matthew Lograno-Weinstein, Mikey was diagnosed with an unidentifiable brain tumor three years ago this Saturday.

 

Mike, who has been on chemotherapy for the 30 of the past 36 months, has 4 ½ months of treatment left.

 

"And from there we'll kind of watch and see where the disease goes," his mother Chrissie said." Since they don't know what it is, they can't really give us an idea of what they think it's going to do."

Earlier in the morning, Mikey had a chemo treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York City. Yet, he had plenty of energy during his trip to the barbershop.

 

He bantered with head coach Mike Toop and several Mariners, and helped sweep up some of the fallen locks. Toop also had his head shaved.

 

Toop refused to lose his mustache. "The stache comes off if we shut them out," he said while getting his head shaved, referring to the Mariners' opponents on Saturday, SUNY-Maritime.

 

It is a Merchant Marine Academy tradition that plebes get their heads shaved when they arrive. Seniors don't have to, but Harrison and his teammates made an exception on Friday.

 

"A lot of us are seniors and we're down here with full heads of hair," he said. "Usually the shaved heads are saved for the plebes. The freshmen have to have the shaved heads. The hair is kind of a status thing around here and the fact guys are willing to get rid of it for Mikey . . . says a lot about the team."

The Mariners got involved with Mikey and fundraising two years ago.

Dennis Murphy, who played for Toop at Albany State in 1983, had a daughter, Jaclyn who suffered from brain cancer. Jaclyn, a lacrosse player, was paired up with the Northwestern women's lacrosse team.

"They kind of adopted Jaclyn," Toop said. "They did wonders for her in terms of the mental standpoint."

Murphy created Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, an organization that pairs up ailing children and college sports teams. More than 200 schools have adopted children.

"We did it with Mikey a couple of years ago," Toop said. "On homecoming morning, the football game, he walked in. Murph came in and talked to us and the team on the morning of the game. Mikey came in with his parents for breakfast. He's been a part of this program ever since."

A fundraiser will be held at the Bungalow Bar and Restaurant in Rockaway Beach, N.Y. at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Donations also can be made in Toop's name on the St. Baldrick's website at http://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/participantid/470216.