Beard-scaping for the good of the cause

There's an old saying: Never mess with a man's beard unless it's for a really good cause. Okay, so maybe that's just something a couple of us of us (you can guess which ones) came up with. Nevertheless, for Adam Miller, a clinical assistant in Transplant Services at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, that credo was right on the nose. (Or just under it, as it were.) Right down to the good cause part.

beard760It all started late last year when Miller began growing a beard. All was going according to plan until his co-workers, led by fellow clinical assistant Katrina Hodges, took notice and suggested he do something outrageous: Shave it off. "We'd been teasing him about shaving it off for a while," Hodges says, "but then we said, 'You know, why don't we do a fundraiser, shave it off, and then donate the money to the Gift of Life Transplant House?"

When they took their plan to Miller, however, he wasn't exactly sold. But all it took was a little prodding for him to come around. "I started really thinking about it and then said, 'Yeah, why not?'" Miller says. But he decided they should have a little fun by allowing others to pick a new style of facial hair for him … after first making a donation, of course.

Miller then went online and found a selection of styles for people to choose from, including the ever-popular Hollywoodian, Mutton Chops, Friendly Mutton Chops (a sentimental favorite), Chin Curtain, Napoleon III Imperial, Old Dutch, Klingon and Ducktail, among others. (Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.)

All of the donations that accompany the votes will go to the Gift of Life Transplant House to help patients who Miller, Hodges and their colleagues say are simply the best. "I just hope all of this helps our patients, because a lot of them, when they come here, just need help," Miller says. "And this is just one way for us to do that and to hopefully make their stay here a little easier." Voting on beard styles (with accompanying donation, of course) continues through Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Gift of Life Transplant House or by tracking down Miller, Hodges or one of their colleagues at the Charlton 9 desk.

The new beard will make its debut during an unveiling on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14). One of Adam's lucky co-workers will do the shaving honors. Miller agreed to keep his new look for the rest of the day on Friday, though he says what happens after that will depend on which style receives the most votes (and donations) and whether that winning style is "Mayo friendly."

UPDATE: We're told that the voting was, um, neck and neck till the bitter end, when Napoleon III Imperial carved out a victory. All told, the contest raised $1,524.55 for the cause, in just one week. Apparently there were last-minute pushes from the Napoleon III Imperial camp and the Mutton Chops camp, including a moving email plea for the latter, which gave it a brief edge, but the mutton chops were cut short but a late push, and Napoleon won the day (this time).

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