Nfld. & Labrador

Chris Andrews shaves trademark beard after fundraising success

A fresh-faced Shanneyganock frontman emerged in Flatrock on Saturday night after fulfilling a promise to an 11-year-old girl.

Shanneyganock frontman wagered his whiskers to help buy a wheelchair-accessible van

Chris Andrews had shaved only once in the last two decades — until Saturday night. (Chris Andrews/Facebook)

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.

Last-minute donation

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."

Andrews poses with Jess Stamp-Hiller for a fundraising campaign dubbed Wheels for Jess. (Roger Maunder)

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.

Jaxson Stamp-Hiller holds his sister, Jess, as father Justin Hillier, standing left, is joined by his youngest daughter Jordyn, mother Juanita Stamp-Hillier, oldest daughter Jamie and Andrews. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

"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.

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With files from Lukas Wall