Chris Andrews shaves trademark beard after fundraising success
Shanneyganock frontman wagered his whiskers to help buy a wheelchair-accessible van
Shanneyganock frontman Chris Andrews might find his face a little chilly after shaving off his bushy beard Saturday night, fulfilling a fundraising promise he made to an 11-year-old girl.
Andrews offered to part ways with his trademark whiskers in exchange for donations toward a wheelchair-accessible van for Jess Stamp-Hillier, who has Rett syndrome and uses a wheelchair to get around.
Rett syndrome is a rare non-inherited neurodevelopment disorder that almost exclusively occurs in girls and affects nearly every aspect of their life — including Jess's ability to speak and walk.
"I was really happy," Andrews said.
"I didn't really want to shave my beard, I'm not going to lie. But I'm really glad I had to."
Back in June, the Stamp-Hillier family of Flatrock started raising money for the $80,000 van. Andrews described it as a community effort with bake sales, card games and other events.
But by December, it became clear to Andrews that the family needed more help. So he started a GoFundMe page and pledged to bare his chin if he could raise $25,000.
After a big, last-minute donation, Andrews' beard fell to the floor in clumps before an adoring Flatrock audience on Saturday night.
"It's amazing how people rallied and made this happen," he said.
Andrews set a Jan. 5 deadline for the GoFundMe campaign, but as that date loomed, the fundraiser lagged.
One day before time ran out, Greg Roberts, the owner of Mary Brown's, donated more than $11,000 — pushing the total over the top.
"It was great to have that big one cap it off," Andrews said.
"But like I said, it was a real community effort."
Juanita Stamp-Hillier, Jess's mom, told CBC News they've now raised $64,000.
Andrews, who's shaved only once in the past two decades, is still getting used to his fresh face. It's not his preferred style, Andrews admits, but it's a small price to pay to help a family in need.
"Her mom's after hurting her back and her neck from lifting her in and out of the truck, you know. Seems like they had a real need for this," he said.
"If me shaving off an old beard can help that family, well, it's an easy decision."
Don't expect Andrews to sport his new look for long. He's already working on a new beard.
"I've started already," he laughed.
With files from Lukas Wall