By Christine Bryant
If you’re driving around town and notice some scruffy police officers, the Reynoldsburg Police Department assures there’s a good reason why.
This month, nearly 30 officers with the department are participating in No-Shave November, a web-based, non-profit organization that helps grow cancer awareness by encouraging men to sport beards and mustaches during the month of November. Participants in the initiative raise funds through sponsorship that go toward supporting cancer prevention, research and education.
Although the department has participated in No-Shave November for several years, this year is the first where officers have been allowed to grow beards in addition to mustaches.
“I personally participate because I feel strongly about educating people, young and old alike, about the seriousness of cancer,” said Officer Tony Hines, who serves as the community resource officer for the department. “I feel we have to do our part in reducing our chances of contracting the disease and also be vehicles of the education process.”
This year’s campaign will support programs at the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Fight Colorectal Cancer, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“We all have a loved one that has either battled or is battling cancer,” Officer Kevin Shively said. “I would gladly support any cancer research initiatives and it’s even better when we can have a little fun while doing so.”
Since the age of 18, Shively has served in the military, with the Border Patrol or as a police officer, and has never gone more than 10 days without shaving.
“Now at 33 I am curious to see what a full 30 days will look like,” he said. “I have found that my neckline has become unbearably itchy, so I have been keeping it trimmed up.”
That hasn’t stopped several from asking about his level of “scruff” coming in, he says.
“Mostly people know that it’s in support of cancer awareness,” Shively said. “I am sure my family will be surprised to see me come Thanksgiving.”
As community members ask Hines about his growing hair, he has used it as an opportunity to spread awareness.
“Quite a few citizens have inquired about the beard, which is exactly what I was hoping would happen,” he said. “When I tell them what it’s for, I also take the time to educate them a little bit and steer them in the direction of supporting a cause much greater than themselves. I think we have all been given a platform to do this and I am taking full advantage of it.”
While nearly 30 officers, including Lt. Bill Early who is serving as the acting police chief, are participating, several officers including female officers and other department employees have made generous donations to support the cause, Hines said.
For Officer Michael Loyszczyk, having a close family member who has fought cancer inspired him to start participating in No-Shave November a few years back by growing out a mustache.
“My father-in-law is a cancer survivor and anything that can bring additional awareness to the cause is a good thing,” Loyszczyk said.
This will be the longest he has gone without shaving his beard, and looks forward to Dec. 1.
“Sweet relief like removing a wool sweater from your face,” he said.
Go to no-shave.org/team/RPD_NoShave to sponsor the Reynoldsburg Police Department officers participating in No-Shave November.