A month without shaving

Police officers grow beards to raise money for cancer research

In November, North Bergen’s police officers went an entire month without shaving their beards, as a fundraiser for colorectal research Fight Colorectal Cancer, a national nonprofit based in Washington D.C. that organized the effort.
Colorectal cancer, a preventable disease, is the number two cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the U.S.
“It raises awareness,” said officer and soon-to-be-sergeant Alex Barrios, “because when people don’t normally see us with beards and ask us why, we tell them we’re donating to the foundation.”

“If you can raise enough awareness, people will get checkups, and you can possibility beat it.” – Lieutenant Arthur Del
The group of 58 officers held the fundraiser in collaboration with colorectal cancer survivor and longtime North Bergen store owner Robert Ceragno. The group went to Ceragno’s Eye Contact Vision Center on Bergenline Avenue to have their beards shaved off by stylists from Jagged Edge Salon on Wednesday, Nov. 30. The officers raised $3,400, including the $500 Ceragno donated to the organization and $50 donated by each officer. Ceragno said he has been working closely with the Fight Colorectal Cancer since his illness.

A reminder to be screened

“The cause is worth it,” Lieutenant Arthur Del said. “I have a couple of family members who were affected by cancer. If you can raise enough awareness, people will get checkups, and you can possibility beat it.”
This was a different type of fundraiser by the department, Del said, because they usually raise money for Special Olympics. It’s also different because it required an exception to department policy, which stipulates that officers must keep their hair short, and have no beard.
“People should get screened for that type of cancer because it’s important, and I look forward to doing it again next year,” Barrios said. Although the fundraiser was the first time, Barrios said, “We hope it’ll be a tradition. Everybody loved it, and people said they should have beards year round, but it’s against policy.”
The money for the organization is used to further research in colorectal cancer.
“It’s for those who have been touched by cancer, and everyone knows someone who has been touched by it,” Del said.
To find out more about Fight Colorectal Cancer visit their website www.fightcolorectalcancer.org.

Samantha Meyers can be reached at samantham@hudsonreporter.com .

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