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  • Writer's pictureVirginia Gaitens

The Honor Project's 2nd annual (2016) Beards for Breasts Competition ends

The Honor Project announced on July 13th, 2018 that its wildly successful 2nd annual Beards for Breasts Competition, benefiting the Palmetto Health Foundation, has come to an end.

The Honor Project announced on July 13th, 2018 that its wildly successful 2nd annual Beards for Breasts Competition, benefiting the Palmetto Health Foundation, has come to an end.

The first annual Beards for Breasts Competition, inspired by The Honor Project's Founder, Edward McDonnell, kicked off in the fall of 2015 with eight Columbia real estate industry professionals. The rules were that the contestants, in exchange for an entry fee to benefit charity, were to refrain from cutting, trimming or shaving any portions of their beards. Exceptions included cheek bones, lip line and neck line. The last man to not shave would take the title. The competition ended mid-January 2016.

The 2nd annual Beards for Breasts Competition, beginning on October 3rd 2016, drastically expanded beyond the real estate industry and South Carolina, drawing nearly five times the number of contestants willing to donate to the cause.

In addition to the title, the 2nd annual competition added the winner would be awarded with a five-night Carnival Ecstasy cruise for two from Charleston, SC to the Bahamas.

Within the first few months, the majority of the contestants "caved and shaved". At the 5-month mark, there were still ten gentlemen remaining in the competition. At the 8-month mark, there were four remaining, and in July of 2017, the competition was down to its two finalists - Bryan Spencer and Matthew Jeffcoat.

Both finalists were eager for the tittle. Over the course of the competition, the finalists both proposed on different accounts to negotiate a tie and either donate the cruise, split the win or liquidate the prize. However, one or the other rejected each offer proposed and chose to continue the competition.

On July 12th, 2018, one year and nine months into the competition, the finalists agreed to call it a tie under a very special condition; the cruise would be donated to a local breast cancer survivor, Jill Sellers.

Jill Sellers is the best friend of Holly Buerkert, wife of Jonathan Buerkert, who was among the original Beards for Breasts contestants in 2016. Jonathan's purpose for entering into the competition was to win the cruise for Holly's best friend, Jill and her husband Charlie.

Over the course of the competition, Jill fought relentlessly and found victory in her battle against breast cancer. However, just a few short months ago, Holly, too, was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been walking the same path as Jill since. In mid-July, the Competition Director, Parris Claytor, arranged for the 2nd annual Beards for Breasts finalists to meet Jill Sellers, Holly Buerkert, and their husbands.

Jill was presented with the Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Certificate. Best friends Jill and Holly have since decided that they will be taking the cruise together.

"Our hearts go out to Jill and Holly, and to all others who have suffered and are suffering from cancer" says Claytor. "The idea behind Beards for Beasts was for men to experience a small fraction of the mental and physical anguish that comes with cancer by means of growing a hairy, itchy, funny-looking beard while walking with strength and self-confidence through the day-to-day judgment of today's society."

McDonnell says, “What started a few years ago as a well-intentioned, short term competition among a few close friends, blossomed into a full-fledged fundraiser among up to 45 fundraisers, lasting over a year. Through hearty competition, I am glad to see the extent the competition took on a life of its own.”

Kristin Hudson, Event Director for Cancer Centers at Palmetto Health Foundation adds, “Palmetto Health Foundation appreciates the support of The Honor Project through the 2nd annual Beards for Breasts Competition. We are grateful for their fundraising efforts and will use the dollars raised to support our efforts right here in the midlands to provide the latest in 3D software for our patients at Palmetto Health Breast Center.”

The Honor Project warmly thanks all of its Beards for Breasts (B4B) contestants for their support and participation. Special thanks to Jill Sellers and Holly Buerkert, for allowing their stories to be shared. We hope this competition will inspire others, and we pray for all those suffering to stay strong.

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