UI students raise $2,000 for breast cancer research through No-Shave November


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Growing a beard is serious business.

And what began as a no-shave competition among four University of Iowa students turned into an awareness campaign that will continue long after their beards are gone.

UI sophomores Corey Collins, Storm Vaske, Mike Greeby, and Alex Bruzzini said they originally decided to have a competition to see who could go the longest without shaving shortly before Nov. 1.


"We thought it would be cool to do No Shave November like a lot of guys do," Vaske said, and the group later re-designated the month as "November to Remember."

The four soon decided they could use their beards to raise money and awareness for breast-cancer research and called it "Beards for Boobies."

"It was something we kind of wanted to do, and this idea just evolved and got really big," Collins said.

Vaske said the group's goal is to support the search for a cure so fewer people have to face the life-changing effects of breast cancer.

Collins knows about the effects — his mother, Cynthia McAdam, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. During the event, Collins gave his mother a wristband the group had made during her time in the hospital.

Throughout the month, the group encouraged hundreds of men to grow out beards for the cause, but the organizers' goal of keeping their beards until the very end fell short by two weeks.

But during the competition, Collins mother died on Nov. 16. The four friends decided to shave their beards for the funeral out of respect for Collins' mother.

"… [the event] became really personal for us," Vaske said.

Collins said coming back to campus with a shaven face was difficult, but seeing all the students who were still supporting the cause moved him.

"It's kind of like — if I was a football player and I saw someone wearing my jersey with my name on it — it's just like that kind of feeling," said Collins. "You're walking around campus, and you see someone wearing your band or shirt that you don't even know — that's awesome."

The original idea for the event wasn't meant just for Collins' mother but to raise awareness for the cause as a whole.

UI sophomore Michael Kardell, who participated in the event, said he was quick to jump on board.

"It was really great to see something like this be put together," he said. "I remember growing up in high school, my friends and I participated in [No Shave November], but it never had any meaning … I've had relatives who have passed away because of cancer, and this is that extra effort that I can put forth to the cause."

The friends have since developed an online giving page, designed T-shirts, and sold wristbands called "Bands for Life" to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The $5 wristbands, worn by around 500 UI students, raised a profit of around $2,000.

"It wasn't specifically for her, but it hits home," Collins said. "November to Remember has a really strong meaning behind it — it kind of smacks you in the face when you realize this doesn't just affect you, it affects everyone."

According to the National Cancer Institute an estimated 230,480 women will be diagnosed with and 39,520 women will die of breast cancer in 2011.

This event inspired the group to apply to become an official student organization called the Young Altruistic Professionals of America. The organization will focus on entrepreneurship, organizing different fundraising events throughout the year.

And though Kristi Finger, the UI coordinator for student organizations, said that while the group isn't official, it is on its way.

"The hardest part is finding something that people are willing to believe in, and this [event] really blew up on campus," Greeby said. "We really found out how much support we have, and that's why we want to keep going and utilizing that support to better our community."

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