COLUMBIA — It's a good bet that Gina Bartholmey will need a lot less shampoo.
Bartholmey, a 22-year-old firefighter with the Boone County Fire Protection District, had her long blond locks buzzed Sunday at the "Buzz the Red, White and Blue" event benefiting the Dream Factory of Central Missouri. The organization is a not-for-profit that funds dreams, such as meeting celebrities or going on vacation, for children who are critically or chronically ill. The event took place at Stephens Lake Park under the Gordon Shelter and featured barbecue and live music. But many people just showed up for the spectacle of watching 15 police and firefighters have their heads shaved .
In the hours leading up to the shearing, Bartholmy said that she was nervous about losing her hair.
"I'm expecting it to be a little emotional, but it will grow back," Bartholmey said. I know I'm going to look a lot different. " It's going to be weird to get up in the morning and not have to brush my hair."
This is the first year that the Dream Factory chapter did a "buzzing" event.
"We wanted to do something different," Tim Bach, a Dream Factory volunteer, said. "This is a really easy fundraiser for us because the participants (getting their heads shaved) raise the money, and we put on the dreams."
The Dream Factory chapter was started 25 years ago and has given away 400 dreams to kids in the area,
This year Boone County Fire Station No. 8 raised about $5,000 for the charity, which will fund one or two dreams. Boone County Fire Department, Columbia Fire Department, Columbia Police Department and EMS workers of Boone Hospital Center also raised funds for the Dream Factory.
Lt. Jeffrey Heidenreich spearheaded the fundraising for Boone County Fire Station No. 8 and said that he was excited about the donation because it was a way to help out local children.
"What's really cool about the Dream Factory is that the money stays here in the area and goes to local kids," Heidenreich said. "With some of the national charities you never get to know the person who gets the dream, but you have that chance here."
And Boone County Fire Station No. 8 plans to stay involved. The station hopes to "adopt" one of the recipients of the dreams and have them over to tour the facility and play on the firetrucks.
The "Buzz the Red, White and Blue" event raised about $9,500 for the Dream Factory.
Bartholmey kept her eyes closed for most of the shearing but opened them when the crowd started chanting her name. When her turn was up and her hair lay heaped on the floor, Bartholmey could already feel the difference.
"It feels a lot lighter," Bartholmey said. "I don't have any regrets yet."