Everybody knows that having a beard vastly increases your chances of getting laid (or “finding love”–whatever floats your boat). But what if it could also save a life? What if it could save hundreds?
That’s the goal for Jimmy Niggles, founder of Beard Season (and owner of the fifth best beard in the world, according to last year’s World Beard and Moustache Championships in Austin, Texas). Jimmy started Beard Season after his good mate Wes Bonny was killed by melanoma back in 2010. He was 26 years old.
Too many young men fall victim to a surprisingly treatable cancer every year, because not enough people go and get regular skin checks. Jimmy knew that he needed to somehow start a national conversation about this. Beards are a great conversation starter.
At Wes’ wake, Jimmy and the rest of Wes’ bereaved friends decided to use their beards to do something about it.
While Jimmy hasn’t had so much as a trim since (he won’t shave it off until his charity reaches its goal of $1 million), Beard Season now takes place every winter, and targets those most at risk: men aged 18-45: blokes who generally think they’re bulletproof, and hardly ever go in to see a doctor.
Making the commitment to grow a beard for three months makes the challenge a little more serious (doing so without getting a skin check would be pretty bloody embarrassing). Add to that the fact that beards make great conversation starters, and therefore, can get other people involved, the concept has gone from a few mates trying to prevent another tragic loss, to an international phenomenon.
And we’re not exaggerating. Sir Richard Branson is on board. So is UK television heavyweight Graham Norton (fans will notice that he’s been sporting a beard of late. Beard Season is why). Even Prince Frederik of Denmark came ashore during their pop up clinic at Hamilton Island Race Week and got a free skin check. In fact, over 90,000 people globally now participate in Beard Season in one way or another. From bearded brethren who spread the word through their furry faces, to people whose lives have literally been saved by a #BeardSeasonSkinCheck, this is now an enormous movement, and one which saves, on average, a life a week.
These results have been dutifully documented under the #BeardSeasonVictories hashtag on social media, something the movement uses every day to spread the word. Every season, beards become life saving billboards for early detection. This year’s season was officially launched by a hirsute Hamish Blake, aboard a pirate ship on Sydney Harbour last weekend. Hamish himself recently had a melanoma scare, and has been growing his beard especially.
To get involved you can sign up as a team or as an individual at the link below, but the most important thing to do, if there’s but one way Jimmy would like your support the most, it’s to GO AND GET A BLOODY SKIN CHECK, and tell your mates, whether bearded or bare-faced, to do the same.