Beards save lives

The benefits of the “Decembeard”

Kyle Berg

My obsession with facial hair began at a family reunion when I was eight. I had not yet mastered the art of swimming, but I did excel at cannonballs and belly flops—as long as I had my trusty life jacket. After an hour of poolside shenanigans, my mom decided it was time to head back to our campsite. I stripped off my lifejacket and began to walk towards the exit, but my yearning for one last dip was too strong.

I raced to the edge and leapt with vigor, gusto and the freeing feeling of the wind on my bare chest. As I sunk to the bottom of the pool an unfamiliar feeling crept over me: I was not rising to the top. After several seconds of staring at people’s feet, strong hands plunged into the water and lifted me from my certain fate.

Looking up at my deliverer, I took note of his appearance. He had a beard that reached his bosom, thick black sunglasses and jean cut-offs. My mom thanked him profusely before he disappeared into the crowd of family members who flocked to my side.

Since that day I have had a special bond with beards. I never got the man’s name; I only know he had a beard and saved my life. I never thought that by growing a beard I could help save lives as well—until three years ago when I discovered a website raising money for prostate cancer.

The concept was simple. Raise awareness by growing a beard and get people to donate money for prostate cancer research. Since then, I’ve searched for more ways beards can better mankind and discovered three websites I highly recommend: freetobreathe.org, us.movember.com and ivegotaname.com/decembeard.

Freetobreathe.org

At freetobreathe.org you will find a fundraiser called Beards for Hope. The mission of Beards for Hope is to “ensure surviving lung cancer is the expectation, not the exception.” The vision is to double lung cancer survival rates by 2022 by raising money for research, educating patients on their options, making molecular tumor testing standard care and doubling lung cancer patients in clinical trials.

We can participate by registering for free at their website, clicking on the “Get Involved” tab and scrolling down to the “Register to Grow” button. Once you are registered the fun begins. Quit shaving by November 1 and submit weekly check-in photos or videos on Twitter, Instagram, Vine or all three. Make sure you use “#beardsforhope” so they show up on the freetobreathe.org newsfeed.

By submitting photos with the proper hashtag you can begin to spread awareness for this noble cause and hopefully encourage onlookers to donate. You also get rewards for raising $100, $500 and $1,000 in donations. All the money raised goes to lung cancer research.

Us.movember.com

The Movember fundraiser is for those who are feeling even more adventurous and want to grow the soup strainer (better known as a moustache) instead of a beard.

As a participant you can grow your mustache and raise money for prostate cancer research, men’s health programs, mental health programs and testicular cancer research. Movember has also partnered with 7 For All Mankind jeans; for every pair of jeans sold, $20 will be donated to Movember programs. Check out the website to learn more about the rewards and prizes you can receive when you raise certain dollar amounts.

Ivegotaname.com/decembeard

Their tagline says it all: “Take a stand, be a man, grow a beard.” This event encourages men all across the United States to grow beards and raise money to put an end to sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. I’ve Got a Name was started in 2009 by Bob Burton, Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of Nebraska.

If you are wondering how growing a beard can stop sex trafficking, here are three easy steps. First, set your goal for the amount of money you want to raise. The website encourages you to set your goal high, as you may be surprised how much donors are willing to give. The second step? Grow your beard! The third step is the best one: start asking your friends to help you reach your goal. You have a month’s head start on this one, as it will begin in December.

All three of these organizations are worthy of our time, energy and money. So get out there and use your beard-growing power for good. If you cannot grow a beard, support those who can by donating to the cause.

Kyle is a senior studying language arts education.