Employees from Texas A&M’s University Police Department, Brazos County Sheriff’s Office, College Station Police Department and Bryan Police Department are participating in the Beard it Up and Color for the Cure campaign to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer.
The departments have teamed up with The Cure Starts Now-Central Texas, an organization aiming to end Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a type of pediatric brain cancer that is commonly fatal. The male employees at these agencies have the option to donate $50 to grow a beard or $30 for a goatee, and female employees can donate $30 to paint their nails a color that represents a certain type of cancer. They started growing and painting Nov. 1 and will continue to do so until Jan. 3.
Although local law enforcement has only been participating with The Cure Starts Now since 2018, that was not the first time officers have foregone shaving for cancer research, according to College Station Police Officer Tristen Lopez. The officers are given special permission to be able to participate.
“We’ve been participating, in one form or another, in No Shave November for a couple years now,” Lopez said. “Basically our professional dress code with the police departments does not normally allow facial hair in the form of beards or goatees.”
Likewise, Deputy Stephen Garon with the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office said the female employees are given permission to have brighter nail colors to participate in this campaign.
“Primarily for the female side, they paint their nails in a color that corresponds with a cancer that they want to bring awareness to,” Garon said. “Pink being breast cancer, purple for prostate, there are many that they can choose. Traditionally here at our sheriff’s office, the finger nail policy is that is has to be a neutral color, so during this campaign for The Cure Starts Now, it allows for more noticeable colors.”
Officer Kelley McKethan with Bryan Police Department said she is considering participating this year to bring awareness to cancers that have affected her family.
“If I did, it would definitely be pink,” McKethan said. “My sister passed away from breast cancer in 2016, and then my father is currently battling esophageal cancer.”
University Police Department Lieutenant Bobby Richardson said the main goal in this campaign is to raise awareness and money for a good cause.
“We can connect with the community, raise awareness, get people checked out and help find a cure,” Richardson said. “That’s what makes this cause so important.”
Garon said everyone has some experience with cancer, and it is important to support the cause and everyone it affects.
“We’ve all been touched by cancer in our families or friends in our lives before,” Garon said. “My little sister was diagnosed with cancer at an early age. I have several friends here who have all been touched by it somehow. We stand behind each other.”
McKethan said she hopes the unity of these agencies in this one campaign will show everyone the importance of cancer awareness.
“Any type of cancer awareness is important,” McKethan said. “I think when you have an agency that stands for safety and stands for caring for others wanting to help with this cause and participate, the public does see that, and it brings awareness to the cause which is the whole purpose.”
The Cure Starts Now, which originally started in Brazos County, has expanded greatly since last year, according to Richardson.
“Because of our efforts in 2018, The Cure Starts Now and law enforcement, they’ve reached 51 agencies in eight states,” Richardson said. “So it’s pretty impressive for that all to start here.”
Lopez said he very much enjoyed working with this campaign last year, and hopes their contributions to this cause will aid in the fight against cancer.
“The Cure Starts Now-Central Texas is an awesome charity to work with,” Lopez said. “They are non-profit, and they are able to directly fund research studies that have the potential and hopefully make progress in finding a cure for cancer.”
Lopez also wants people to know this campaign is not limited to local law enforcement. Anyone who wants to contribute to the cause is welcome to donate and start growing beards and painting nails.
“One thing that we would like to do, is encourage anyone else who would like to participate,” Lopez said. “Grow a beard for November and December, but if you do so, please join us in going through the same Cure Starts Now-Central Texas portal and make a donation.”