IDAHO — One local radio personality is getting ready to say goodbye to a longtime friend Wednesday afternoon: his beard!
Big J from 100.3 the X Rocks is shaving off his facial hair as part of an effort to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer's Association: Greater Idaho.
"We're chopping off the beard which has been...It's kind of become a part of my identity at this point. I created something called Big J's Beard Brigade and really it was to kind of kick-off The Longest Day event that's happening on June 20 for the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Idaho and thought, 'hey, you know I'm going to be doing some traveling coming up' and the beard and the mask don't really go well together," he says.
Big J planned to chop off the beard earlier, but once other people found out about his plan, they stopped him and suggested turning it into a charitable moment.
It's not just listeners helping out the cause; local businesses are also stepping up to pitch in and reach the $3,500 fundraising goal.
"It wouldn't have been possible to do all this without my friends at the Boise Beardsmith. They threw up a raffle, giving away a free Beardsmith package for a year and a bunch of product and a lot of great things. A tattoo from Lifestyle Tattoo that's there in the same business district as they are. So, partnering with them is the whole reason it's been so successful."
Raffle tickets are available up until just before shaving time which is set for 4 p.m. Wednesday.
"Everybody who's donated through the link with the Alzheimer's link that I have, however much you spend, every $10 you get a raffle ticket so all those folks who donated that way, you get a raffle ticket. And then you can go into the Boise Beardsmith up until 3:30 or so and get yourself a raffle ticket or two, $10 a pop, and it'll all go toward the cause," Big J explains.
Big J says Wednesday's "de-bearding" isn't the first time he's shaved for charity, but it's the first time he's done so specifically for the Alzheimer's Association. It's a cause that's near-and-dear to him after losing his mother to the disease.
"In 2018, we lost my mom Connie to Alzheimer's," he says. "It was a real struggle. The thing that makes it even more difficult is she had Alzheimer's and dementia before that and it sucks because literally, you end up mourning the person you love the most twice. I mean, when you see them slip away and the memories, it's just very, very difficult."
Big J says at the time of her diagnosis, his family wasn't aware of the work of the Alzheimer's Association, but now it's become his platform.
One of the newer events from the organization is called The Longest Day, giving people a chance to fight the darkness of Alzheimer's through a fundraising event of their choice, prompting the creation of Big J's Beard Brigade.
"It's a really great opportunity because as an individual who's been affected by Alzheimer's and dementia, it gives you a personal opportunity to take the fight to Alzheimer's. Whether you're passionate about, maybe you play cards, whatever it is, that you can kind of take control of producing a fundraiser and raising money and awareness so we can find our first survivor."
While growing and shaving a beard may not be something everyone can do, Big J encourages the community to find a way to turn their passions into an awareness and fundraising event.
"You can find all different kinds of ideas you can do. I know there's a lot of bicycling enthusiasts who do some biking tours here in town. We've got some card people who like to play bridge and they raise money that way. It can go as easy as having a backyard bbq."
To check out Big J's Beard Brigade and the de-bearding event, click here.