As the winter chill begins to whip across the face of Aussie blokes, many will let the whiskers go wild to stay warm. Thanks to Beard Season, men can now use their bushy billboards as a life-saving conversation starter and inspire friends to donate toward a national skin check program. Evolving into a giant movement, thousands of ambassadors are growing magnificent chin warmers and helping those around them to visit their GP or skin cancer clinic for a skin check. If nothing else, joining the challenge has provided a beautiful counterargument when the missus requests a shave.
The challenge began eleven years ago after the death of a bloke named Wes Bonny, who was tragically killed by a suss looking spot on his neck that he didn’t know was dangerous until it was too late. Devasted by the loss, Wes’s mates did some research and found that Australian men are two times more likely to die from skin cancer than women, and most at risk were aged between 18-45. Thankfully, over 98% of skin cancers can be successfully treated when detected early, so they decided to come up with an idea to turn those most at risk into powerful advocates. Wanting an ‘in your face reminder’, they decided to grow their beards each winter and rename it Beard Season.
Founder Scott Maggs, formerly known as Jimmy Niggles, kept growing his beard since the first Beard Season in 2010, on a mission to meet new people every day and share Wes’ story. This led to growing the charity and the profile of early detection, eventually catching the eye of high profile figures such as Chris Hemsworth, Deborah Hutton, and Sir Richard Branson. Going from strength to strength, Jimmy recently shaved his beard off (in one piece) at the Million Dollar Beard Ball, hosted by renowned publican Justin Hemmes, to participate in the Beard Season like all the other ambassadors.
The master charity of Beard Season is Skin Check Champions, which aims to create the world’s first, targeted national skin check program. Last summer, they brought early detection services to most at-risk communities, running free pop-up skin check clinics up and down the east coast, providing over 1,400 screenings. Through corporate and philanthropic partners, they aim to work with the Government and roll it out on a national scale. They have a petition for this program with over 7,000 signatures and are looking forward to further support.
Head over to their website to learn more about Beard Season and begin growing out those facial follicles for the greater good.