Keisel, North Hills science teacher take part in Shear Da Beard
Kris Proctor’s beard may not be quite as massive and legendary as former Steeler Brett Keisel’s. But his heart sure is.
Proctor, a science teacher at North Hills Middle School, grew his beard for nine months, then sacrificed it in front of 651 middle-school students during a school-wide fundraiser that mirrored Keisel’s annual Shear Da Beard event, which benefits the cancer programs at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
Shear Da Beard has raised a cumulative $700,000 for pediatric oncology programs at Children’s Hospital over the past nine years. It features local athletes, celebrities and young cancer patients taking turns shearing, cutting and snipping Keisel’s famous beard in front of hundreds of spectators.
On Friday, Feb. 8, it was Proctor’s turn to face the shearers.
Days before, students had sold 678 paper beards to family members, friends and neighbors for $5 each, raising $3,390 for Shave Da Beard.
The top five salespeople won the opportunity to clip the first few handfuls of Proctor’s facial hair and meet Keisel, who came to the event to autograph mini footballs, cheer the kids’ efforts, and of course, take part in shaving Proctor.
“This is groundbreaking,” Keisel said. “North Hills is is the first school to contribute to my event. It’s humbling and amazing.”
Seventh grader Abby Krogmann, 12, sold 95 paper beards.
As the top salesperson, she was awarded the honor of taking the first few snips off Proctor’s beard.
While she was happy to see the whiskers go, she was not too keen on having to touch them.
“It was so gross,” she said. “It felt like thin, oily noodles.”
Proctor began growing his beard last May to support his son’s youth hockey playoff run. When the season ended, he was not sure he wanted to get rid of it.
North Hills High School senior and cancer survivor Sean Nolan suggested that he grow it long and participate in a school-wide Shear Da Beard-like fundraising event. Nolan, who was diagnosed with Burkitt Lymphoma in 2016, is a former Children’s Hospital patient and a current ambassador for Keisel’s Shear Da Beard efforts.
“When you’re sick, it’s important to keep a smile on your face. Keeping a good mental state is half the battle,” Nolan said. “When I was at Children’s Hospital, they helped me keep a smile on my face by bringing in dogs as pet therapy and playing music through music therapy. These things were possible because of Mr. Keisel’s Shear Da Beard donations.”
Proctor agreed to keep the facial hair if it could help kids fight cancer.
“It’s for a great cause,” he said. “But people would be amazed at how much food gets caught in it.”
It took a mere 13 minutes to obliterate the beard.
“It was very rough and coarse, but the scissors were really sharp so it wasn’t too hard to cut,” said eighth-grader Lukas Hollenbeck, 14.
Proctor suddenly felt a slight tinge of regret as he eyed his newly exposed chin in a hand-held mirror and ran his fingers across his clean-shaven cheeks for the first time.
“It’s going to take some time to get used to. I feel naked right now,” he said, “But it was definitely worth it.”
Laurie Rees is a Tribune-Review contributor.