Several Vienna police officers in November put down their razors to raise awareness of prostate cancer through ZERO Cancer’s #NoShaveNovember campaign.
Officers on the “Grow and Give Team” were supporting Master Police Officer Juan Vazquez, who lost his father to prostate cancer, and raised more than double their fund-raising goal of $3,000.
“I am so humbled that so many of my colleagues participated and took it upon themselves to fund-raise for this worthy cause,” Vazquez said. “Even with everything else they have going on with work, family responsibilities and life, the fact that they were willing to do this speaks volumes about who they are and shows how much they care about people.”
His father, Antonio Ricardo Vazquez, was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 65 and underwent treatments. He died in 2017 in Orlando.
To date, the officers have raised more than $7,000 for the non-profit organization to support prostate-cancer research and educational outreach. The department’s total was the second-highest amount generated by a public-safety organization in the nation.
“We thought $3,000 was a high goal, considering we had never done anything like this before,” Vazquez said. “The generosity of our family, friends and this community has absolutely astonished us all.”
Members of the public were “pleasantly surprised” upon encountering the bearded officers, and appeared to be able to relate to them more easily than when they had their standard, military-looking, clean-shaven appearance, Vazquez said.
Some local residents favored having officers keep the beards, while others preferred that they shave once the fund-raising campaign ended.
Today, the participating officers are clean-shaven to comply with reinstatement of the department’s no-facial-hair dress-code rule, but they can still fund-raise because ZERO Cancer has extended its #NoShaveNovember donation deadline until Dec. 5.
Nearly 250,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the U.S.this year alone. The illness is highly treatable if diagnosed early.
Vienna police “definitely” will take part in the program next year, Vazquez said.
The fund-raiser boosted the department’s morale and “created a very positive work environment,” he said. “It was a great exercise internally for us to do. It really seemed to bring us together.”
To support the Vienna Police Department’s Grow and Give Team, visit https://bit.ly/VPDgrow.