BUY NOW & SAVE TAKE AN ADDITIONAL
according to Sgt. Michael Kalinsky, with the sheriff’s office’s Community Resources Unit.
Camp Open Arms was founded by Dr. Joshua Abzug, a pediatric orthopaedist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who wanted to create a camp where children with limb differences were able to enjoy a camp experience.
“The doctor founded the camp to give the kids an opportunity to interact with other children with similar limb differences and allow them to see that they can do anything that any other child with no limb differences could do,” Kalinsky said.
Some of the children at the camp were born with a limb difference through an illness or a genetic disorder, while others acquired a limb difference at some later point during their life due to illness, an accident or other reason.
Children with limb differences are able to attend the camp free of charge, with the camp being supported by donations to the University of Maryland Medical System Foundation, like the funds raised by Cecil No Shave.
According to Kalinsky, the camp brings in physical therapists, medical professionals and counselors, as well as provides kids with opportunities to be active and have fun.
“With all the volunteers there, everything is done to make sure that the kids are getting a regular day camp experience,” he said.
While other “No Shave November”-type events typically support the fight against cancer through cancer awareness, research and treatment, Cecil No Shave opted instead to raise money for Camp Open Arms.
When the now annual campaign began in 2015, Kalinsky said the money raised did go toward fighting cancer as one of the sheriff’s office’s retired deputies had a father who passed away after battling the disease. Since then, the fundraiser has shifted to support Camp Open Arms after CCSO Det. Donald Lidy’s daughter, Rosie, was born with a limb difference.
“Rosie won’t be able to attend the camp for a few more years, but it was very personal for us because we knew all the sacrifices that [the detective] and his family were making to make sure that Rosie had a fighting chance,” Kalinsky said.
While attending a dinner at the camp, Kalinsky recalled a video the organizers showed about two of their campers: a boy and a girl who became best friends at the camp, and who went to Ocean City together with the boy’s family.
“I do a lot of cool stuff with different charities and different organizations, but this one’s life-changing,” Kalinsky said. “Not just for the kids, but for those of us who have had the opportunity to go down and be a part of this. You see kids with all sorts of limb differences … just running around and having a good time.”
While most Cecil No Shave participants are men, Kalinsky said CCSO did have two female deputies participate, including Dfc. Lindsey Ressin.
Ressin is a member of the transport unit that comes to CCSO a couple times per week to drop off paperwork and pick up materials for the detention center. On one such visit in the springtime, Kalinsky asked Ressin if she wanted to be involved with the annual campaign. She immediately said “yes.”
“She’s a very very forthright person … She was gung-ho pretty much from the first conversation back in May,” Kalinsky said.
Ressin pledged to get a haircut if Cecil No Shave reached its $20,000 goal. So, after CCSO crossed that monetary mark, Ressin visited Domain Spa & Salon on Tuesday, Nov. 27, where she got her first haircut in three years and donated approximately 15 inches of hair to Locks of Love.
Kalinsky said Ressin’s hair donation, the other deputies’ willingness to forgo shaving for an entire month, and community members’ contributions to the fundraiser through T-shirt sales and outright donations are all testaments to the great cause that Cecil No Shave supports.
During its first year, Cecil No Shave donated close to $7,000 to the Maryland Cancer Society. In the following two years, the event raised about $17,000 each year for Camp Open Arms. This year, Kalinsky said the fundraiser has peaked at about $23,000, surpassing the previous two years’ amounts by $6,000.
Kalinsky wanted to give a special shout out to Cecil County Public Schools, which he said helped raised close to $8,000 alone for Cecil No Shave.
“That’s been one of the most fun aspects for me this year is going out to the schools or seeing the pictures of the teachers wearing their shirts in support of what we’re doing,” he said.
Kalinsky said the outpouring of support from the community has been incredibly heartwarming.
“They appreciate seeing the deputies with the beards,” he said. “Some of the pictures are kind of out there as far as people trying to get creative and get more likes than the other deputies. It’s extremely supportive.”
As part of Cecil No Shave, CCSO has sold over 400 T-shirts, with orders from people as far as Indiana, Kalinsky said.
“My office looks like a warehouse right now,” he said.
November can get a bit hairy with the overwhelming number of T-shirts that Cecil No Shave donors purchase, but Kalinsky said the hard work that he and his colleagues put into the fundraiser each year proves to be worth it when they see the kids at camp running around, playing soccer, drumming and dancing.
“At the end of the day, the families that send their kids to the camp and the campers make this extremely worthwhile,” he said. “I am now looking forward to August when I get to go to camp again for a day and see the kids and see where the money is going. I’ve raised a lot of money for charity over the years before I was a Cecil County deputy and since, but being able to see where the money actually goes and seeing the smiles on their faces, that’s the reward.”
Members of the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office snaps a selfie of the beard he is growing for Cecil No Shave 2018. Inspired by “No Shave November”-type events, Cecil No Shave raises money for Camp Open Arms, a day camp in Monkton that provides a fun and accessible camp experience to children with limb differences.
DFC Lindsey Ressin gets her first haircut in three years from a hair stylist, Meghan, at Domain Spa & Salon. Ressin donated approximately 15 inches of her hair to Locks of Love in support of Cecil No Shave 2018.