Auctiva employees are letting their whiskers grow wild during the month of September to do their part to stop prostate cancer.
The Auctivians are participating in Septembeard, an event that asks men from around the country to let their beards grow out to raise money and awareness about prostate cancer, the second deadliest cancer for men.
Art Wagner, a prostate cancer survivor, began Septembeard this year and founded a nonprofit organization by the same name. Word quickly spread about the organization, which is devoted to raising money for prostate cancer research, prevention and treatments.
As of Wednesday, Septembeard participants throughout the U.S. had raised more than $34,500 in donations for Johns Hopkins, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson, Northwestern University and University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
Aaron Lord, a senior developer at Auctiva, first read about Septembeard in a magazine and encouraged fellow Auctiva employees to participate. Fourteen men answered the call, forming the Auctibeards team. It consists of Auctiva developers, IT personnel and members of the company's communications and sales teams.
If we could eradicate prostate cancer, that's a lot of lives that could be saved
At this writing, Auctibeards has raised more than $320 in donations, putting the men in eighth place among teams in the Western United States. The team hopes to raise $5,000 by the end of September.
"If we could eradicate prostate cancer, that's a lot of lives that could be saved," Lord says. "Fathers, brothers, soldiers, scientists, leaders… You can't put a price on a man's life. The Web site makes it easy to donate and even lets you choose between a half-dozen different organizations, so I hope over the next few weeks remaining in this campaign, that we can make a real difference."
A personal crusade
Some of the members of Auctiva's team have been personally affected by cancer. Others just want to do their part to end the disease, they say.
Spencer Smith, Auctiva's director of business development, is participating in memory of his wife's grandfather, who died in July after a seven-year fight with prostate cancer. "He was a great man, and left us much too soon," Smith says.
Auctiva Commerce developer Christian Gugas had no hesitation about participating.
"A friend of mine has cancer, so any organization that raises money to help cure it has my vote, and my beard," he notes.
IT technician Eddie Jefferson has also been touched by cancer. His mother is a breast cancer survivor. So for him, spreading the word about cancer made sense. He says prostate cancer is a cause that doesn't get the attention it deserves.
Jefferson grows out his beard a little throughout the year, but he admits he never fully commits. "I thought I might as well now, when it's with a good reason," he says. "I'm glad to be part of it, and feel like I am doing something to help."
Auctiva development manager Shawn Crossley decided to participate and donate to the cause. He lost his mother to breast cancer when he was 11.
"I like the idea of supporting any kind of cancer research," Crossley says.
The disease affects too many people, adds sales rep Kelley Moore. "It shortens and takes away too many lives, too soon."
To donate, visit Auctibeards' donation page and learn more about Septembeard at Septembeard.org.
This article was updated to include UCSF as a beneficiary of Septembeard, and additional quotes from Auctibeards team members.