Bald Bond

Marty Finds New Purpose After A Close Shave

Marty Brennaman loves to talk. He does it for a living. The voice of the Reds on radio has never been shy. In almost 40 years with the team, he's never hesitated to opine. So when Brennaman told coach Chris Speier last season that he would shave his head if the team won 10 straight "” it was Marty being Marty.

The Reds took 10 in a row and Brennaman took the field at the Great American Ball Park on Aug. 3, a few days after his 70th birthday. The park was packed and cameras were clicking. Every swipe of the barber's clippers was recorded and his silver locks were shorn.

His life changed.

"I had been told the Tuesday before by one of my dear friends, John Burns, who does a lot of work with the Dragonfly Foundation, that he had been to see some of the kids and this little girl said, "¢Friday night, Marty Brennaman will look like us,' " he says.

"And that touched me in a way that I had never been touched before.

"I've never been an overly emotional person. It just touched me "¢"

Christine Neitztke and Ria Davidson created the Dragonfly Foundation in 2010 after Neitztke's son Matt was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. It is dedicated to helping children and young adults with cancer and blood-based illnesses. Many of the children lose their hair during treatment, so they have T-shirts proclaiming "I'M STILL ME."

A group from Dragonfly was invited to the field. "The night was about the Reds Community Fund and Marty's 70th birthday," Davidson says. "We didn't want to take attention away from that."

As Brennaman recounts the event, he speaks slower and the pauses between sentences become longer.

A Simple Embrace

"There was nothing planned, it was all spontaneous," he says. "John brought the T-shirt to the park and I just put it on (under) "¢ this Reds jersey commemorating my 70th birthday.

""¢ They shaved my head, I stand up and I think, you know what, I'll take my (jersey) off to show the 40,000-plus people my Dragonfly shirt.

"And those little girls were there, and I opened my arms to them and they came over and I kissed each one of them on the head, having no knowledge what it would do for the Dragonfly Foundation and what it continues to do."

Davidson says Brennaman's contribution "” that night and since "” cannot be overestimated. The video of Brennaman embracing the three young girls raised the foundation's profile immediately and immensely.

"The reality of cancer treatment is not something that people necessarily want to come face-to-face with. But Marty realizes what his forum is and has been all-in with us since that night."

It was a powerful example. University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono had his head shaved after the men's basketball team won 10 straight early in the season.

"I was over at UC when President Ono had his head shaved," Brennaman says. "I have done some other things with them (Dragonfly), so I guess you could say I'm a spokesman for them.
I told those two ladies (Neitztke and Davidson) whatever I can do to help, just let me know."

Even for the usually chatty Brennaman, it was his actions that made the story.
 
 Marty on the
2012 Reds