Thirty-two medical students went scruffy for a month to raise money for local children.
A group of second-year medical students inspired their first- and second-year classmates to participate in a No Shave November competition, a challenge to stop shaving for a month that raised more than $300 to support local children with cancer. No Shave November challenges have become popular traditions on campuses and in offices throughout the country, and students Aaron Schatz, David Zuelzer and Alex Skidmore brought the trend to the MCV Campus in 2011.
Their idea for the No Shave November competition created a fun opportunity to connect with classmates and give back to a local organization: the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Students were excited about the competition and responded with a strong turnout. Since the event’s organizers were second-years, Zuelzer said he especially was thrilled with the first-year students’ participation.
First-year student Mark Korenke was No Shave November’s winner for best beard. He’s pictured here with his 4-month-old, mustachioed son, Jack.
On Nov. 1, the competition got underway with 32 participants. Unshaven students started appearing in classes across campus, and fundraising numbers were increasing despite an awkward phase that competitors had to endure when their faces began to show a shadow.
“My favorite part of the challenge was the first couple of weeks,” said Schatz. “It was very awkward, because not all hair grows at the same rate. It was a common time to get a question like: ‘What’s going on with your face?’“
But, as the stubble grew, many of the participants’ classmates were impressed by the beards that appeared. At the end of the month, seven confident gentlemen entered their photos in No Shave November’s finale: a competition for the best beard.
More than 150 students voted, and first-year Mark Korenke was selected the winner. Schatz, Zuelzer and Skidmore will hold a trophy presentation ceremony after their winter break to celebrate Korenke’s victory. Event organizers believe Korenke’s win was aided by his toddler’s appearance in their contest photo wearing a paper mustache.
“The trophy is of a man with his fist in the air like Rocky, and it’s dedicated to the most manly man,” Zeulzer said.
Korenke also will have the honor of presenting a check of more than $300 to the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. The students were excited to donate the money to a local cause, and they hope that the money will be used to buy hair replacements for children who are undergoing chemotherapy.
“In essence, we thought of it as giving our hair to them in an indirect manner,” Schatz said.
With No Shave November behind them, the participants took the opportunity to shave their beards into what Zuelzer called “socially unacceptable facial hair.” There was a brief proliferation of handlebar mustaches, goatee and Mohawk combinations, and long sideburns connecting through the mustache. They each took their new look with them to class on Dec. 1, amusing their classmates. Then, the participants were free to return to their clean-shaven appearances.
“After a month of not shaving, we were literally itching to get rid of the facial hair,” Schatz said.