, Salem, MA

August 29, 2013

Class president's close shave pays off


---- — BEVERLY — Maddie Thomas is the junior class president and a member of the National Art Honor Society, swim team and stage crew at Beverly High School.

She’s also bald as a bowling ball — and for a great reason.

Thomas had all her hair cut off last weekend — 19 inches, to be exact — to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity committed to finding cures for childhood cancer.

She dedicated the head shave to her best friend, Taylor Carlson of Beverly, whose father, longtime Salem News employee Jimmy Carlson, died of cancer last year.

Thomas said Carlson was a “second dad” to her and she was devastated by his death.

“Watching my (practically) sister go through that and being unable to help was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Thomas wrote in an email. “I’m raising money for children’s cancer because I would be honored to lower the chance of another family going through a similar situation.”

The head-shaving took place at the New Hampshire Roller Derby in Manchester, N.H. Thomas raised $1,587, the most of the 42 participants.

You can still donate at

All for Riley

The Riley Rocks Family Carnival really rocked.

The event, organized by volunteers to raise money to support the family of 6-year-old Riley Fessenden, drew hundreds of people to the high school last Sunday and raised more than $45,000, according to organizers.

The money will help pay the medical expenses for Riley, a Beverly girl who has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer of the nasal cavity.

On the road

The Beverly Bookmobile still gets the honor of most recognized vehicle in the city. But the new Beverly Bootstraps van might not be far behind.

The refrigerated vehicle allows Bootstraps to transport fresh produce to its “mobile markets” around the city and make large pickups at food banks and food drives.

The organization bought the vehicle at the start of the summer, thanks to donations from the Beverly Rotary Club, Cummings Foundation and Fred Berry Charitable Foundation.

Change is good

Change is Simple, the nonprofit environmental education company run by Lauren and Patrick Belmonte of Beverly, will bring its program to all of the elementary schools in Beverly and Salem for the next two years, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Cummings Foundation.

Change is Simple was a big hit with Gov. Deval Patrick, who saw the program in action when he visited the North Beverly Elementary School last December.

Angie update

On the rare chance that you don’t follow Angie Miller on Twitter, we’ll pass along the news that the “American Idol” star from Beverly is scheduled to appear at the Topsfield Fair on Oct. 8.

Shore bet

Shore Country Day School will hold an opening celebration on Tuesday for the new Lawrence A. Griffin Center for Creativity.

The $12 million building includes a theater, an innovation lab, and new spaces for the arts, music and technology.

Greatest generation

We were sorry to hear of the passing of Paul Fiore on Sunday at the age of 93.

Fiore, a World War II veteran, took part in the Beverly Farms Memorial Day parade for more than six decades straight. When he was too weak to march, he rode in a car driven by his son Paul.

Fiore fought on Guadalcanal, charging up Bloody Ridge Hill with his fixed bayonet. In another battle, he spotted the body of a Marine covered with a poncho and knew instinctively that it was Henry Dix, his childhood friend from Beverly Farms. Dix Park in the Farms is named for Henry Dix.

Fiore’s younger brother Ralph was also killed in the war, on Okinawa.

Paul Fiore once told the story of how he sparred for three rounds with former heavyweight boxing champ Joe Louis during the war in New Guinea.

Louis gave him the ultimate boxer’s compliment. “You hit hard,” he said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or