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article image‘Grow hair because you care’: An NHL tradition for a great cause

By John Duarte     Apr 4, 2012 in Health
Ottawa - The hockey post season is just around the corner and, once again this year, there is extra incentive to grow a playoff beard.
For the second year in a row, the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation will be holding the NHLPA Beard-a-thon during the 2012 National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs. For the next few months, members of the players’ association is inviting Canadians to participate in that great playoff tradition and grow beards along with them and raise money for research.
“Growing a beard is synonymous with playoff hockey,” says former NHL player Mathieu Schneider, now an assistant to the executive director of the NHLPA. “This is an exciting time of year for players and fans alike. We look forward to seeing some great playoff beards throughout the spring while we aim to top last year’s NHLPA Beard-a-thon fundraising total.”
Last year, over 2,000 people took part in the “beard-a-thon” and raised close to $200,000. The NHLPA and the Heart and Stroke Foundation are inviting Canadians to join in the “itchy” fun and challenging them to beat last season’s results. Several NHL players have already committed to the cause, including Philadelphia Flyer forward Scott Hartnell who topped the 2011 Beard-a-thon pledge board by raising over $12,000.
“I challenge Canadians to toss aside their razors for this great cause and grow a better playoff beard than me,” says Hartnell. “If you can't grow a beard, please support a friend, family member, or pledge one of your favourite players.”
Statistics show that nearly 70,000 Canadians die each year as a result of heart disease and strokes and it’s the number one killer of women in Canada. Heart disease and stroke cost the health-care system nearly $21 million each year. Money raised in last year’s Beard-a-thon helped purchase 29 life-saving automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for hockey arenas and communities across the country.
“The Heart and Stroke Foundation is thrilled to once again participate in the NHLPA Beard-a-thon and we sincerely thank the NHLPA for this opportunity,” says Heart and Stroke Foundation CEO David Sculthorpe, adding that one in three Canadians suffer the effects of heart disease and strokes. “Whether you don a beard every playoff season or you've never done it before - it's a great way to show you care. This year's contributions will bring us closer to our vision of healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke for all Canadians."
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