Miami University sophomores Alex Belman and Kenny Ness have raised more than $13,500 by convincing men to stop shaving.
In 2012, the two roommates created “Beards for Boobs,” a philanthropic campaign that raises money for breast cancer research.
“The fundraiser is unique because while it gives back to the female population, its premise is men growing out their facial hair as a way to show support for women,” Ness said.
Designed around the national male health awareness event, No Shave November, Beards for Boobs asks men to find friends and family members that will financially sponsor their November-long beard growth. Sponsorship money and merchandise sales are then donated to Susan G Komen’s fundraising program Passionately Pink.
“I wanted to do something specifically for breast cancer because my grandma had recently been diagnosed and beaten it,” Belman said. “We based it off of No Shave November because we were already going to participate and figured why not do something good with it.”
During their first year in operation, the pair primarily depended on word of mouth around their dorm. While Beards for Boobs raised $2,500 and placed in the top 10 percent of Passionately Pink’s fundraisers, it fell short of the co-founders ambitious $5,000 goal.
Determined to succeed, this past year Belman and Ness set an even higher objective of $10,000. They learned from their mistakes and began planning much further in advance. The two also expanded their work force by introducing their fundraiser to fellow members of Miami’s male fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike).
“Everyone in our frat was all for it,” said Grant Jones, a Miami sophomore and Pike member. “It’s an important issue and such an easy thing for us to get involved with.”
Through their efforts, in 2013 Beards for Boobs raised over $11,000, putting it in Passionately Pink’s top 20 national fundraisers. The campaign gained so much attention that representatives from other universities have begun contacting Belman and Ness in the hopes of starting their own adaptations of the fundraiser.
“We went from selling around 60 shirts our first year to over 900 this year,” Ness said. “It’s been a great cause that keeps us involved and giving back to the community.”
This year, the two hope to reach more members of the Oxford community by holding additional events throughout November.
“We’re planning on trying to break our fundraising record again this year,” Belman said. “We’re taking our mistakes from our past fundraisers and working on them so Beards for Boobs will continue to grow and grow.”