Beard for Boston: Fund-Raising Facial Hair

beard progressionIt only took five seconds for Ryan Judkins’s boss to approve his beard plan. Surprised, Judkins, a sales representative for Callaway Golf and a normally clean-cut guy, asked, “You do realize I might have a beard that’s five, six, or seven inches long at one point?”

His boss replied, “I love it. Do it.”

A few days earlier Judkins was away from home on a sales visit when he first saw the news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. In the wake of the tragedy, Judkins’s campaign Beard for Boston was born.

“Being in Las Vegas, I couldn’t go out there and donate hours to help clean up the area or provide aid to the injured people,” he says. “The only thing I really could do was raise money, and that’s where I came up with the idea to grow a beard and set a goal of $10,000. That was the most efficient, organized way of being able to help the people who needed it.”

On 24 April 2013, Judkins put away his razor and settled in for the long haul. He came up with the Beard for Boston logo, which incorporates the B of the Boston Red Sox logo along with a beard, and made a proposal to the general counsel of Major League Baseball (MLB) to use it.

“When they knew I wasn’t trying to make money off of the tragedy, they granted me permission to use the logo for one year for one dollar,” Judkins says. “The MLB giving me that permission was very encouraging and made me think, ‘Okay, this is some­thing I can do that people will understand and be supportive of.’”

With a logo, T-shirts, and a website behind him, Judkins planned a charity golf tournament for that December. Donations were sparse, but thanks to the beard he was frequently asked questions about it.

“Anytime you come up with an idea, you get really excited about it, but it’s easy to lose motivation,” he says. “The beard gave me another form of commitment. People knew about it. They were going to ask about my progress.”

By December those questions had turned things around. Judkins raised $10,000 at the golf tournament alone, thanks to a large turnout from his customer base and generous dona­tions from local businesses for a silent auction.

“People said they wanted to contribute to my cause, and I thought, ‘Okay, maybe $20 or $50,’” says Judkins. “I got so many $100 contributions. One family sent $250, which just floored me. They have little kids and they have needs of their own, yet they were extremely generous with their contributions. I saw that from numerous people.”

With nine months of growth on his chin, Judkins exceeded his goal in December, raising more than $15,000, which he donated to One Fund Boston, a centralized charity that supports victims of the bombing and shooting.

Judkins, who no longer has a beard, received his BS in business management with an emphasis in marketing from the Marriott School in 2000. He and his wife, Charity, have four children and live in Henderson, Nevada.

Check out the summer issue for class notes and more alumni updates.