Mike Chase first started growing his beard in 1973 and hasn't shaved once until ... now. Friends, family and co-workers donated thousands to a charity of his choice to see him beardless for the first time in decades, raising a grand total of $16,020.
Friends, family and co-workers gathered at the Pepsi Center inside Fifth Third Ballpark to witness something most had never seen before December 2. Mike Chase, Vice President of Sales at Eikenhout, was shaving off his beard for the first time in 41 years.
The event was the finale of a fundraising plan for the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids' Inner City Youth Baseball/Softball program that began when a couple of Eikenhout employees asked Chase how much it would cost to shave his famous beard.
"I grew my beard in December of 1973. I was married in August of 1973, and by Christmas that year I had a beard," Mike said.
"He had big lamb chops in high school. Then he grew the mustache. It was like he just was taking one swipe on the chin, and it was like connect the dots, let it go," his wife Carol Chase said.
"No one has ever seen him without a beard," director of operations Sean Scully said. "So ... the employees, family and friends, everyone wanted to see that beard come off."
On December 2nd, a bit over a month after the challenge kicked off, Mike's family, friends and co-workers gathered for the big shave-off -- and to see how much was raised for charity.
After the reveal of a whole new man, there was the reveal of how much was raised. The initial goal of $5,000 was well surpassed, and Mike was blown away.
"$16,000 for a beard? Give me a break! That just tells you something about our community and our friends and people that I work with," Mike said.
"I truly don't recognize him," Carol said when she was finally able to speak. "He looks like his brothers and his dad! He looks good, but I'll be happy to have him grow it back."
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