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03/17/12 9:57 PM ET

Bray shaves head for St. Baldrick's event

Reliever raising awareness for childhood cancer

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Clump by clump, the hair fell off of Reds reliever Bill Bray's head into a pile on the floor. Within mere moments on Saturday afternoon, Bray was completely bald.

Seeing your hair disappear might be an anxious moment for some, but Bray only wore a big smile on his face throughout the experience, because his locks were shorn out of love for a family member. He announced a few weeks earlier that he would shave his head to raise money for St. Baldrick's Foundation, a charity that funds research for childhood cancer cures.

Bray's 10-year-old cousin, Trevor, has battled neuroblastoma cancer for several years and organized his own fundraisers for St. Baldrick's, which gets its name from combining the word "bald" with "St. Patrick's Day."

"The idea came when my cousin Trevor and his Dad called me and asked if I could donate a couple of baseballs and have some guys on the team sign them for a charity auction to go along with the St. Baldrick's event," Bray said. "I said maybe I can do one better and shave my head and maybe raise some good money for the foundation."

Bray's efforts have raised more than $3,600 for St. Baldrick's, primarily through Twitter and Facebook. Donors who pledged $25 or more received an autographed photo from Bray. Since 2000, the St. Baldrick's Foundation has raised more than $117 million

"I would say it's been extremely successful," Bray said. "The fact that people who don't know me have contributed so much, it's incredibly ... I don't even know the word for how honored I am that people would take their hard-earned money and donate it to a cause. I want Trevor to know we're always thinking of him, every single day."

Bray, a Reds lefty reliever since 2006, did not put his head in the hands of a trained barber or stylist. Manning the clippers was 10-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., resident Erin Bailey, herself two-years free and victorious from a two-year battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Smiling sheepishly as she stood behind her first-ever haircut client while parents Mike and Cindy watched. along with Bray's family and representatives of St. Baldrick's, Erin shaved away.

"I was a little nervous. It was my first time. It was exciting," Bailey said afterwards.

Not quite sure what she was doing, Bailey moved the clippers up and down, side to side and whatever way it took to get Bray's hair to come off of his head.

"Perfect, that's it. You're doing great," Bray said, encouraging her. On occasion, he took Bailey's hand and helped her guide the clippers across his head.

"Should I do the face?" Bailey asked.

"Nooooooo!" replied the cluster of people gathered in the Reds' interview room. Bray took care of shaving off his goatee himself.

"I would have loved to have gotten Bronson up here," Bray said, referring to long-haired teammate Bronson Arroyo.

Bray planned to take a razor to his head once he got home and to become skin-bald. He was excited to have helped Trevor and children with cancer in his own small way.

"He's doing good. The kid is a heck of a fighter," Bray said. "He's had it for five years and just keeps battling. He's always worried about somebody other than himself. I think that's probably the most impressive part. With everything he's been through, he's more worried about the world around him and making it a better place."

Pretty soon, the shearing was all done and Bray was much lighter on top. His 2 ½ year old daughter, Laurel, had witnessed the haircut, looked at the pile of hair and wasn't sure what to think.

"You can put your hair back on," Laurel told her father.

In due time, it will grow back. For now, Bray and his daughter will get used to the notion that bald is beautiful.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.