Seven central Albertans will risk losing their beards to support people struggling with their mental health.
The Save the Beard fundraiser is raising money for the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation, which provides programs to those suffering from mental illness.
Participants are collecting money through a GoFundMe page, with the top two fundraisers potentially having their beards saved.
One of the participants, Marc Shields, operations manager at the Troubled Monk brewery in Red Deer, said it’s been a long time since he’s been without facial hair.
“This beard, in various shapes and sizes, has been around for probably 13 to 15 years – about as old as my son,” Shields said.
Is he nervous about potentially having to shave it off?
“To a certain degree. Especially considering it’s damn cold today. Plus, I’m a bigger guy than I used to be, so I have no idea what’s under there anymore,” he joked.
Shields said he’s happy to support the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation.
“If I can do a little bit to help someone who’s struggling to improve their life, it’s better for everybody,” he said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Shields leads all fundraisers with $1,200. More than $2,700 has been raised collectively by all the participants.
Foundation co-founder Rick More said the businesses and people of Red Deer have kept Smiles Thru Lindsey going strong.
“It’s unbelievable how much they do to keep Lindsey’s legacy alive by raising money and awareness. The stigma (surrounding mental health) is a huge part of this. That’s always been an issue,” he said.
Rick and Cindy More founded the foundation shortly after their daughter Lindsey took her own life at the age of 22.
“We hope people will open up and say ‘I need help.’ Even in Lindsey’s case, it was hidden. She hid it from us, she hid it from most people because of the embarrassment caused by the stigma that was created years ago.
“I feel the newer generation is starting to understand and is starting to talk about it. That’s such a key part to improving our youths’ lives,” he said.