Starting in November, staff at the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office, Bryan Police Department, College Station Police Department and Texas A&M University Police Department participated in the Beard it Up and Color for the Cure campaigns to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer.
The Cure Starts Now is an organization dedicated to researching cancer, specifically the pursuit to cure Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a brain cancer found in children that is often fatal. The Central Texas Chapter teamed up with Brazos County police departments to raise funds for further research.
Local police officials raised $13,477.40 throughout November and December. Participating male officers were allowed to grow facial hair by donating $50 dollars for a beard and $30 for just a goatee. Female participants were allowed to paint their nails in representation of a specific cancer for $30.
Vicky Bridier, director of the Central Texas Chapter of The Cure Starts Now, said the chapter was created in honor of her daughter Jade after she passed away from DIPG. Bridier said local police departments also participated in 2018, exceeding expectations with $12,000 earned.
“Last year they raised $12,000,” Bridier said. “And again, that was a number that was beyond what we even dreamed about. You know, we thought about, altogether, $10,000, but they really got involved last year.”
In an email to The Battalion, Lt. Bobby Richardson from the Texas A&M Police Department said the workplace environment changed during the campaign. According to Richardson, officers discussed the best ways to groom and care for one’s beard, and shared stories about their loved ones.
“The most memorable moments are the conversations that took place that you usually do not find in police departments,” Richardson said. “Officers started sharing stories of their friends and family members who have been affected by cancer and how important it is to be proactive and get checked.”
Officer Tristen Lopez of the College Station Police Department said he enjoyed taking part in the Beard it Up campaign because it allowed for a break from the rules, while shedding light on a worthwhile cause.
“So, the idea is during the winter months it’s colder, ‘Can you grow a beard out? Can it still look professional?’” Lopez said. “In exchange for that, the officer that participates is going to make a donation to the fundraiser. So it becomes a positive thing, we’re not doing it just to get out of shaving for a month or two months.”
Sergeant Ryan Bona from the Bryan Police Department said the campaigns raise awareness and money as people notice the officers’ beards and painted nails.
“Some people don’t notice, but some do,” Bona said. “‘Hey, they’ve got facial hair, they usually don’t.’ Sometimes it will spark conversation about why we have the facial hair. And again, the whole purpose behind it is so that we can bring awareness and hopefully raise more money for cancer research.”
Those who are interested in donating to Jade Bridier’s tribute fund can do so online at https://thecurestartsnow.salsalabs.org/heroes/p/jadebridierstributefund/index.html.