Officers from the Rochester Police Locust Club and other area law enforcement personnel grew beards through November as part of a unique fundraiser called Beards for Bucks.
Officers were allowed to grow facial hair for a good cause. Adam Devincentis, secretary of the Rochester Police Locust Club, says officers are not normally allowed to grow beards while on duty and in uniform.
“The chief gives us an exemption,” said Devincentis. “The officers pay $25 each for the ability to grow their beard while in uniform, then go out and collect donations from family and friends to raise money.”
Monday, the officers’ beards came off at Altered Image Barber Shop. More than $11,000 was raised for 13-Thirty Cancer Connect, a nonprofit with the goal to improve life for individuals dealing with cancer.
Christina Dibaudo, donor relations manager of 13-Thirty Cancer Connect, says the annual event substantially supports the organization.
"It definitely goes a long way to support our teens and young adults at 13-Thirty Cancer Connect,” said Dibaudo. “We don't get any federal funding so we rely heavily on generous donations from our community both individuals and really great initiatives like this."
Beards for Bucks transformed to Beards for Brothers for the month of December to collect additional money in support of the Manny Ortiz Fund and his family. Ortiz was a 22-year veteran of the force who died last month, after accidentally shooting himself in the leg while driving to work.
Over $13,000 was raised and a check was presented to the Ortiz family.
Lilly Burda, one of Ortiz’s sisters, says she appreciates all the support and generosity.
“I just want to say thank the blue family,” said Burda. “They have done a great job in being our family after our brother passed away. I thank his partner Giovanni. He grew his beard for my brother. It was nice watching him grow it.”
Members of the Locust Club say it has been a tough year for the force, but coming together and lifting each other up as a community is a huge help.