By Mike Smale, Current Staff
In November, the days get shorter, but in West Bend, the beards get longer. “No-Shave November” is happening.
At the high school level, there seems to be little reason behind letting beards grow besides just for fun. However, No-Shave November has a merit. The idea, set forth by the American Cancer Society, is to have folks let their hair grow in order to raise awareness for prostate cancer. The participants embrace their hair, something that cancer patients can lose. Then the money not spent on shaving or grooming, or money raised by general donations, is donated to the Cancer Society for awareness and research purposes.
Superintendent Ted Neitzke is one of West Bend’s leaders embracing No-Shave November. Neitzke, who is also on the St. Joseph’s Hospital Board of Directors, learned from a meeting that prostate cancer is very common. One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer within their lifetime. The problem is that men seldom check for prostate cancer.
“Prostate cancer is more common than breast cancer, and it can be detected and treated very easily,” said Neitzke.
The meeting also mentioned No-Shave November (which locally is promoted as “Be Aware! Grow Some Hair” by St. Joseph’s Hospital) and Neitzke thought it was a great idea.
“The idea is for people to come up asking me, ‘Hey, what’s up with your beard?’ Then I explain No-Shave November and explain its purpose for building awareness and making donations,” said Neitzke.
The idea, which Neitzke is co-leading with Kraig Sadownikow, the mayor of West Bend, and Bob Bonenfant, morning show host at local radio station WBKV, is catching on. At least 110 local men are participating in No-shave November. These men include members of the school board, teachers, and even men on the fire department.
Other school districts, such as Germantown, were challenged to beat this number, and the goal in future years is that school districts across Washington County will participate, said Neitzke.
High school students, however, see No-shave November as an opportunity to do something different. East juniors Colten Lawson and Jonah Meffert, for example, are partaking.
“I am doing it because I’m too lazy to shave and it’s a good excuse not to. And, of course, it supports prostate cancer, too,” said Lawson.
Meffert explained, “I like my beard, but my girlfriend doesn’t like it. But the reason I’m doing it is because I want to see if I look like Aaron Rodgers. With other kids doing it, I feel comfortable participating because I fit in.”
All fun aside, No-Shave November stands as a noble cause. For anyone who would like to donate, there is a helpful link on the school district’s Facebook page for No-shave November donations. More information can be found at FroedtertHealth.org .
(Image: Superintendent Ted Neitzke shows off his untamed chin. Photograph by Mike Smale.)