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Vienna Police lets officers grow out beards for cancer research fundraiser

Vienna police officers will forgo shaving to raise money for prostate cancer research (via Town of Vienna Police/Facebook)

Male police officers in the Town of Vienna will forgo shaving razors this November for a second consecutive year.

Starting yesterday through Nov. 30, Chief Jim Morris has suspended the Vienna Police Department’s usual prohibition against facial hair to support its “Grow & Give” fundraising campaign, which aims to increase awareness and money for prostate cancer research.

The nationwide initiative benefits ZERO, an Alexandria-based nonprofit that assists prostate cancer patients and their families and supports research, treatment and educational programs.

“Last year, our small department raised the second-highest amount of any public safety organization in the country for the cancer charity — more than $8,000 — and that’s thanks to the generosity of our community,” Morris said in a news release.

The total funds contributed in 2021 easily surpassed the department’s $3,000 goal. It hopes to raise at least $5,000 this year.

Morris said the fundraiser is “especially meaningful” to VPD Public Information Officer Juan Vasquez, whose father died from prostate cancer.

“Participating officers hope that as they start to look a little scruffy in their efforts to support life-saving research,” the VPD said. “Others will be inspired to learn more about the illness and donate to the campaign to help find a cure for prostate cancer.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the most common cancers among men in the U.S. are skin and prostate cancer. The latter affects about 13 out of every 100 men, with the risk of getting the disease increasing with age. Black men and people with a family history of prostate cancer are also disproportionately affected.

According to ZERO, which launched in 1996 as the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, 98% of men with prostate cancer survive the first five years after a diagnosis, but that rate drops to 31% if the disease has reached an advanced stage.

ZERO is among several cancer-related nonprofits with a fundraising campaign that encourages people to forgo shaving during November.

The trend started in 2003 with the Australia-based Movember Foundation, which focuses specifically on men’s health. The California-based Matthew Hill Foundation introduced No-Shave November in 2009 as a nod to the hair loss that many cancer patients experience when undergoing chemotherapy, according to its website.

Photo via Town of Vienna Police/Facebook

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