EASTON — “If you are going to grow a beard, you might as well do it for a good reason,” Adam Theeke said. Theeke is one of the founders of Cover Your Chin for Charity, a beard growing contest that isn’t just about the beard.

Last fall, while watching their kids’ field hockey game, Theeke and fellow founders and contestants Joel Shilliday and Andrew Southworth were joking around about how they should have a shave-off, being avid beard growers themselves. “When it all started it was just on a whim and we were just trying to have fun. Then as it got more serious we decided that it should not only be a contest, but a charitable event,” Theeke said.

Last year the event grew, like the hair on their chins, from the original three friends to more than 20 contestants. The contest wrapped up in January 2014 and raised more than $12,000, all of which went to Kids with Cancer, Shore Kids Camp, Waterfowl Chesapeake and Chesapeake Children’s Theatre.

“It was fun and we raised enough money that we not only want to continue to do this every year but we want to get bigger every year,” Theeke said. “We want as many people as we can get from not only in Easton, but from all over the county and the surrounding counties and area.”

The contest starts Thursday Oct. 16, and then continues until the judging party, which is a fundraising event open to the public, Jan. 17 at the armory building in downtown Easton. Theeke hopes to at least double the number of growers from last year. “The more growers we can get the more money we can raise for these charities.”

The rules from last year remain the same: Contestants involved register on the event’s website, coveryourchin.com. They pay a $25 entry fee accompanied by a picture of themselves sporting a clean shave and holding a copy of the day’s newspaper. They are then encouraged to tell everyone they know why they are growing their facial hair.

Contestant will be given T-shirt and buttons that will encourage people to ask why they growing their beard. “The buttons will be particularly good to wear in those early stages when the beard is patchy. You can tell people there is a reason why you don’t don’t look so good,” Theeke said.

The grand prize winner is the grower who raises the most money. Theeke was last year’s winner, raising more than $2,300. Although he would love to win again, he said if he loses it will mean that the contest is serving its purpose, and that is to raise as much money as possible for the charities. “I have high hopes in bringing in a lot of money to give away, but everyone should really want to win,” Theeke said.

Those who wish to support a grower can donate money to sponsor a person through coveryourchin.com and then choose from the four charities that were voted on from a list of nominees: Scholarship fund for Camp Possibilities, a camp for children with diabetes; Baywater Animal Rescue, a no-kill animal shelter; and the Veterans Fund program at the Mental Health Association in Talbot County, which directly assists American veterans in need in Talbot county.

A panel of judges, yet to be revealed, will then judge contests in secondary categories, including full beard, partial beard, and new this year, mustache. Criteria include length, girth and general manliness of each beard or mustache.

“I plan on winning again this year, but they are welcome to challenge me,” Ryan Finch, last year’s full beard winner, said. “It really is about raising money for these charities.” Finch credits his success on his strategy of shaving and then growing hair, and then continuing to grow hair.

“After the success we had last year we are challenging all of the public to become growers and contributors to this year’s charitable drive,” Theeke said.

To learn more about becoming a grower and supporter visit coveryourchin.com. Preregistration is now open for the Oct. 16 start date.

Follow me on Twitter: @Henley_stardem.

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