MORAGA — As she was getting her long, white hair shaved completely off, Valerie Lienau thought of the little girl she met just weeks ago who also lost all of her hair.
Four-year-old Sherri Enneking is battling a rare and dangerous form of cancer, Lienau said.
So when Lienau heard about an event in which participants shave their heads to raise money for kids fighting cancer, she knew it was a way she could fight for Sherri. Within a week of signing up, the Moraga resident had raised nearly $2,500.
"I've never had money to donate to cancer research, but I do have hair," Lienau said. "So it was kind of a no-brainer."
A couple dozen others joined Lienau in parting with their locks Saturday at the Moraga Commons to benefit the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which sponsors head-shaving events nationwide.
Amir Mohamed, a 2006 Campolindo High School graduate and current UC Berkeley senior, organized the event.
Mohamed got involved with St. Baldrick's after he volunteered at Children's Hospital Oakland and met kids fighting cancer. He has shaved his head each of the past two years, but this year decided to bring the cause to his hometown.
"It's really hard to see a family struggle with seeing their child have cancer," he said. "There's really nothing you can compare it to because it's one of the most awful experiences a parent can go through."
Mohamed has pledged to shave his head every year until a cure for cancer is found.
An eclectic group joined Mohamed and Lienau. They included five members of the Moraga Police Department, led by Chief Bob Priebe, nine staff members from Pennini's restaurant and several Campolindo High students.
One student was Natalie Taylor, 17, who didn't let her impending senior prom or graduation keep her from going bald.
"I wanted to raise money for cancer research, and I don't really care about hair," she said. "I've had long hair all my life. It feels really strange. But it's good."
Taylor wasn't the only satisfied donor.
"It felt awesome," said John Brouhard, 9, while running his hands over his newly bald head.
"It's for a great cause," Priebe said. "Once I was up there the anxiety kind of went away. It was nice."
The event raised more than $8,000, said Sarah Mohamed, Amir's younger sister who served as the event treasurer.
In addition to raising money, Amir Mohamed said the event also raises awareness, with bald heads serving as a conversation starter — a way to get people talking about cancer and bring more people into the effort to find a cure.
"Once you shave your head," he said, "you're really a walking billboard for the cause."
Contact Jonathan Morales at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/sosaysjonathan.