Close shave

What began as a shaving accident for Dosher Memorial Hospital president and CEO Tom Siemers turned into a spirited fundraising challenge that last week netted New Hope Clinic more than $7,000 in donations and pledges.

It began in mid-February when Siemers accidentally cut himself shaving, ending with an infection and a visit to the emergency department of his own hospital. Doctors gave him a mandate not to shave for at least two weeks.

Having never worn a beard before, Siemers was very uncomfortable and self-conscious about the hair on his face and found himself apologizing to everyone with whom he came in contact.

During a medical staff meeting two weeks later, orthopedic surgeon and chief of Dosher’s medical staff Dr. Eric Lescault extended a challenge for Siemers to keep the beard until July. Physicians in attendance added to his pledge, making that night’s total over $2,000.

The fundraising effort took on the name “Hair for Hope” as gifts and pledges totaled over $7,000 by July 1. As part of the N.C. Fourth of July Festival in Southport, Dosher distributed 5,000 fans to the crowd along the parade route inviting them to join in the giving by sending a check to New Hope Clinic or visiting the hospital website, where they can make an online donation.

“New Hope Clinic is very grateful to Tom and D0sher hopsital for their efforts in raising over $7,000,” said Sheila Roberts, executive director of the clinic. “We rely on community support to be able to provide free medical care for the uninsured, low-income residents of Brunswick County. Dosher was involved in the original establishment of the clinic back in 1998, and its generosity through this ‘Hair for Hope’ challenge will benefit us in a big way–and Tom was a really big sport throughout the whole campaign.”

Last Thursday, July 3, Eddie Howard and Will Hewett of Howard’s Barbershop in Southport closed the shop and opened the doors to Siemers and five other men representing Dosher’s staff, hospital volunteers and the Dosher Foundation. They, too, grew sympathy beards along with Siemers during the four and a half months of the fundraiser.

The two barbers shaved all six men, stopping halfway through the shaving process for a photo with Roberts and a plaque of gratitude signed by everyone at New Hope Clinic. Other Dosher staff members, physicians and friends also gathered to observe the shaving.

“While having to grow a beard was quite an ordeal for me, it was for a very worthwhile cause,” said Siemers, “and I appreciate so much the guys who grew sympathy beards along with me. It made the whole thing bearable. I’m glad I did it, but there’s no way I’ll ever grow another one!”

Anyone interested in contributing to the Hair for Hope campaign can call Lori Smith in administration at 457-3910 or contact Sheila Roberts at New Hope Clinic at 845-5333. 

(Some articles from The State Port Pilot newspaper are used on the stateportpilot.com website, but represent only a portion of material that is included in the print edition and e-Pilot online, both of which are available by subscription through this website.)