Fund-Raiser A Hair-Razing Experience


When the deal was originally made, the five volunteers from the First Southern Baptist Church were pretty sure of the outcome.

Four of the men --Josh Parks, Pat Wright, Samuel Woods and youth pastor Matt Weems -- agreed to shave their heads if a group of the church's children could raise $4,000 during the month of February. A fifth man, Mike Walden, opted not to risk the Michael Jordan look, but instead put his 24-inch ponytail on the line for the sake of the fund-raiser.

The children, in turn, volunteered to take part in World Vision's 30 Hour Famine --a worldwide effort to increase awareness and look for an end to hunger and poverty.

Regardless of the outcome, whatever funds were raised would be donated to World Vision, the largest privately funded, international Christian relief and development organization in the country.

"I think in the first two weeks of fund-raising, they only had about $200," Weems said. "Then they really started to get on it."

The children started their fast toward the end of the fund-raising project.

"They began at 1 p.m., Feb. 26, and ended at 7 p.m. on the 27th," said Weems' wife, Sue. To celebrate the end of the 30 Hour Famine, church members held a special barbecue that night.

By the morning of Feb. 28 --the last day of the fund-raiser --the children had raised only $2,800. Throughout the day, though, money was miraculously piling up to ensure the children reached their goal.

"There were people coming up at the last minute, throwing money in to make sure we made $4,000," Weems said. "And, they made it."

So that night, before an audience of roughly 60 people in the church sanctuary, 14 children armed with two electric razors collected on their bet. The four men were shaved clean, while Walden --who has had his ponytail for nine years --was allowed to let the professionals at the Lemon Tree chop his locks. Walden then donated his ponytail to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that makes wigs for children suffering hair loss from disease.

Walden and the four follicly challenged men say they received mixed reactions from their friends and family.

"The most reaction I got was from older people who would come up to me and tell me they didn't like my short hair," Walden said. "The younger people said they liked it."

Woods said he's received similar comments from young and old alike, while Parks, a construction worker, said he's been ribbed pretty hard on the job site. "Guys would come up to me and start singing 'Hare Krishna' and yell at me to put my hat on."

No stranger to the razor, Weems said he actually enjoyed the shearing. "This is how I looked when my wife and I met and started dating," he said. "It felt good to feel the sun on my head again."

Weems and Wright have decided to keep their heads shaved for now, while the others have already started to grow theirs back.

"Mine will never be this short again," Walden vowed.

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