Stamford cops fight cancer with whiskers
STAMFORD — With just a few days left in the month, fuzzy-bearded city police officers are second among state police departments in collecting donations for Connecticut cancer patients during No Shave November.
As of this weekend, city officers had raised $6,628 from friends, family — and themselves — to help cancer patients from around the state make ends meet. Participants in the event forego shaving for the month as a way of raising awareness and funds.
The Newington Police Department stood about $400 ahead of Stamford, said Terri Eickel, director of development for the Connecticut Cancer Foundation.
Forty police departments across the state had raised a total of $72,000 so far, much more than the $10,000 goal that was set before the month began.
“It has been amazing. The officers are so excited to help people in their community,” Eickel said. “The money they are raising will stay in Connecticut and help by for day-to-day expenses for cancer patients like utilities, mortgages, car payments or heating oil.”
Eickel said her organization has worked with social workers in hospitals and treatment centers in order to find the most needy cancer patients to help.
Patrol Lt. Gene Dohmann, who has participated in No Shave November since the Stamford Police Department got involved two years ago, said about 50 city officers are helping to raise funds, including some female officers who instead of growing beards are wearing rubber wrist bands.
“The most important thing is they raise money. That is what we are trying to do here. It is all going to a great cause and we are trying to reach out to more people because every bit helps,” said Dohmann, who said he was cancer free after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014. “We are also getting some significant donations from private businesses. Businesses are writing checks to the Connecticut Cancer Foundation. That is what they are doing. They want to help.”
Assistant Chief James Matheny, who also has grown a beard over the past two years, said it’s “deeply personal and satisfying” to contribute and get friends and family involved.
“I’ve lost family and several friends my age and younger and I know from my own experiences that there are people who have needs and expenses they cannot meet,” he said. “That’s the focus of our fundraising efforts this year.”
Stamford Police Association President Kris Engstrand said he was proud of how officers in the department have been so generous, especially because the event comes about a month after the department raised more than $4,000 for breast cancer treatment.
“I think it is outstanding and it goes to show another way that our guys go out of their way to help those in need,” Engstrand said. “Cancer has affected so many in our department, they are always the first in line to go out and help. It is just our nature.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the cause on behalf of the union, can go to noshavenovemberct.org.