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Every year, men ditch their razors for a month during “No-Shave November” to help raise awareness of cancer and men’s health.
For one suburban Chicago family that has long been participating in the tradition, the effort began as a heartwarming tribute to a loved one.
After Matt Hill lost his battle with colon cancer in 2007, his eight children decided to do something in his honor.
“A lot of cancer patients undergo chemo and they lose hair. So we grow our hair for those that are losing it,” said Christine Hill. “And then, the money that you would have spent on hair removal is donated to the cause.”
In 2009, Rebecca Hill, the family’s oldest sister, started the web-based, non profit organization “No-Shave November” with a friend, raising $2,000 for the fight against cancer. Last year, the organization raised more than $1 million.
The group raises money for cancer research by selling bracelets and t-shirts. It also provides fundraising pages where participants gather pledges throughout the month.
Today, the siblings are spread out around the country, but they all communicate and coordinate work on the organization through video chats. Even the youngest member, Thomas, who at 16 is barely shaving, devotes numerous hours to the effort.
“I come home from school, I check online for all the bracelet orders. I pack all those up, have to go to the post office, ship them out,” he said. “Then later, I'll go online and check for support emails because I also respond to those, help people out. Make sure the donations are still coming in, no one's having issues. And I also help my brother design the website.”
The family considers their work a tribute to their father, whom Christine described as “the kind of role model that everyone hopes to have.”
“Even when he was sick, it was always, 'How are things at home? Are you helping out?'" her brother Aaron recalled. "He was an amazing guy.”
Their mother, Hill's widow, Sharon, knows her husband would approve of what his family has done.
“I'm sure he'd be extremely proud — extremely. Because it's exactly what he did day in and day out. He was just giving, giving,” she said. “I think he would be extremely proud.”
Throughout November, TODAY is encouraging its audience to share pictures of their beards and stories about the people they're growing out their whiskers for. At the end of the month, TODAY will host a live shave-off on the plaza.
To get more information or RSVP for the event, sign up here.