By Jim Nieman
More than a dozen men are effectively auctioning away their whiskers to raise scholarship monies for Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing, Mich.
Sure, a person can donate $5, or $50, or $500 to save GLCC president Frank Weller’s beard as part of “The Beard Off,” scheduled to conclude at an event Oct. 15. But, let’s be honest, most people will be putting down money to have him shave it off.
Weller and the other “contestants” know this.
“My dad has had a beard for as long as I can remember,” says Frank Weller’s son, Caleb, who came up with the idea for this fundraiser. “The first time I ever saw him with a cleanshaven face, it was crazy.”
Caleb Weller recruited most of the “generous bearded men” who are participating in this drive to raise $50,000 for GLCC’s scholarship fund. Some of the men have no previous association with GLCC, while others are alums of the college or work there.
In addition to Frank Weller, other Crusaders willing to undergo the ignominy of a public pogonotomy (i.e., the cutting of a beard) are GLCC trustee Duke Gray; Greg Stauffer, vice president of enrollment management; Richard Westerlund, athletic director and men’s basketball coach; and CJ Powell, lead minister with Christ’s Hope church in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Powell is in the early lead in terms of fundraising. Westerlund is a distant second.
Perhaps not coincidentally, says Caleb Weller, Powell and Westerlund probably have the two best-looking beards.
“CJ is just so passionate about this—he didn’t even blink when asked to participate,” Caleb Weller says. “Same thing with Rich. It was ‘all hands on deck’ as soon as the opportunity came up.”
Under the rules, contributors donate funds via www.thebeardoff.com for individual “contestants” either to “Shave” or “Keep” their beard. An online “Shave Tracker” maintains a running tally. (As of Sept. 23, only two contestants were in line to “Keep” their beards.)
Tax-deductible scholarship donations also can be mailed to Great Lakes Christian College, Attn: Phil Beavers, 6211 W. Willow Highway, Lansing, MI 48917 (write “Beard Off” on the memo line of checks).
The person who raises the most money can choose the fate of his beard, regardless of the total tally to “Shave” or “Keep.” But Caleb Weller admits there will be pressure on the winner to shave his whiskers.
And now the men of the After Class Podcast are getting in on the act . . . but with a twist. GLCC professors Sam Long, Ron Peters, and John Nugent are collectively striving to outraise the leading individual Beard Off participant. If the professors manage to do so, they promise to “clean shave” on Oct. 15 and then grow out their beards for the remainder of 2022. (Nugent has not grown facial hair for 30 years.)
The Beard Off luncheon gathering will be from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at The Wind Jammer restaurant in Lexington, Mich. Tickets are $25. The “winner” will be revealed at that luncheon . . . and many faces will be “unmasked” (some for the first time in years).
Asked who would be the most disappointed to shave their beard, Caleb Weller replied, “I would definitely say Richard [Westerlund]. He’s in for some big-time disappointment.”
And it’s set to happen right at the start of coach Westerlund’s basketball season too . . .
Jim Nieman serves as managing editor of Christian Standard.