He'll be 'the sexiest man in Clarenville': Boonie to shave legendary beard for ALS

He's been growing a beard for 39 years, but now Ralph "Boonie" Lethbridge is going to shave it off for charity.
Without his trademark beard, Lethbridge says most of Clarenville won't recognize him. (Julia Cook/CBC)

He's been growing a beard for 39 years, but now Ralph "Boonie" Lethbridge is going to shave it off for charity.

The man known all around the Clarenville area as a seller of Christmas trees started growing facial hair when he was about 16 or 17.

"Because I liked it, and it was good for in the woods all the time and out turr hunting on the water, keep your face warm," he told CBC Radio's Central Morning. "It do protect your face."

His children and grandchildren have never seen him without a beard. It's been decades for his wife, Virginia.

"She'd like to see me without a beard. She might cuddle into me more often then," he joked.

"If I take it off, 90 per cent of Clarenville wouldn't know me."

Ralph "Boonie" Lethbridge says his wife, Virginia, might 'cuddle up to me more often' when he loses his beard. (Julia Cook/CBC)

Lethbridge decided to go clean-shaven after losing three good friends to ALS [Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease].

"Usually everything is cancer, but this is a serious disease too," he said. "But they don't collect much for that."

'It could happen to one of us'

Lethbridge said he was approached by Alex Balsom, and Todd Coles — who lost his mom.

"And they said, 'Boonie would you shave off your beard for it?'  And c'mon, I said, I'll do anything to help 'em out."

Now, he has sponsor sheets and is publicizing the cause. An announcement was made at a recent Clarenville Caribous hockey game, where he had a photo taken.

Sponsor sheets like this are all around Clarenville. (CBC)

The rink is where he will shave off his legendary whiskers during the second intermission of a game with the Gander Flyers on Jan. 24.

"One fellow said to me 'you're going to be awful hard looking' and I said 'that's all right, don't worry about me, buddy.'"

Boonie said he feels sorry for people who are battling ALS.

"Tomorrow, or the next day it could happen to one of us, and it's nice to know if you got a bit of help," he said.

"Wheelchairs and stuff you needs, and everything."

Seeking to raise $5,000

He doesn't think he will miss the beard.

"No my darling, I could grow one in a month's time. But I'll tell you when I loses that, I'm about the sexiest man in Clarenville."

"Boonie" Lethbridge is well know as a seller of Christmas trees in Clarenville. (Julia Cook/CBC)

The fundraising goal is $5,000, and "Boonie" said his shorn whiskers don't have to be left on the cutting room floor.

"If anybody wants my hair, put in an extra hundred dollars, and they can have it."

With files from Central Morning


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